After the Second World War, Norway decided to repay their British allies with a very special annual Christmas gift – a tree.

On the first Thursday in December, a huge Christmas tree is lit in London’s Trafalgar Square, radiating its Yuletide joy in all directions. What you might not know, is that the tree has travelled all the way from Nordmarka outside of Oslo. Yes, in Norway.

The whole ordeal would seem exceptional – if it weren’t so commonplace. With its about four tonnes of weight and around thirty metres of height, the tree is merely the last addition to a long and green tradition that started all the way back in 1947.

During the Second World War, Great Britain was Norway’s closest ally. This was where the Norwegian King and government fled as their country was occupied, and it was from London that much of Norway’s resistance movement was organised.

Both the BBC and its Norwegian counterpart NRK would broadcast in Norwegian from London, something that was both an important source of information and a boost of morale for those who remained in Norway, where people would listen in secret. Because radios were, of course, forbidden by law by the occupants.

After the war, Norway began sending a pine tree to London every year as a thank you.

See the video “The Gift” here: