21 November 2023
Edinburgh's Christmas tree on The Mound has been lit for the winter 2023 season, having been presented to the city by Vestland in Norway, in remembrance of wartime - and also much older - connections.
The lights of Edinburgh’s Christmas Tree on the Mound were switched on yesterday evening (November 20) by the Depute Lord Provost Lezley Marion Cameron who was joined by representatives from Edinburgh Candlemakers, the Norwegian Consulate General in Edinburgh and Vestland County Council.
Standing 18 metres tall, as well as illuminating the city centre for the holiday season, the Christmas tree has historical significance. The tree, which is gifted by Vestland in Norway to Edinburgh, is the latest in a tradition that has taken place since 1947.
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The county of Vestland and Scotland are close neighbours across the North Sea with a shared history, interests and values.
Upon the invasion of Norway in 1940, more than 7,000 exiles were based in Scotland as the Norwegian Brigade fought to free the country from Nazi occupation. The gift signifies thanks from the people of Vestland for the help given by the Scottish people during this time.
In 2008 it was decided the tree would be sourced from Scotland, but it remains a cherished gift from Vestland County Council.
Depute Lord Provost Lesley Marion Cameron and representatives from Edinburgh Candlemakers, the Norwegian Consulate General in Edinburgh and Vestland County Council
Depute Lord Provost, Lezley Marion Cameron said: "It’s fantastic to see the city gearing up for Edinburgh’s Christmas 2023. Christmas in Scotland’s Capital would be incomplete without the Christmas Tree on The Mound, kindly gifted to us from Norway. Once again we are grateful to the Vestland County Council and the Norwegian Consulate General in Edinburgh for continuing this generous tradition, the first Christmas Tree having been gifted in 1947.
"Now, as then, we strive to ensure Edinburgh is a welcoming, inclusive and tolerant city. Edinburgh’s Christmas Tree continues to signify our close ties with Norway and remind us of the strength and universal values of friendship, solidarity and compassion. I hope Edinburgh residents and vistors alike will enjoy the opportunity to view this beautiful Christmas Tree in the heart of our city."
Political Committee Leader for Culture, Sports, and Inclusion, at Vestland County Council, Jacob Nødseth, said: "Vestland County Council and the people of Vestland are happy to present the annual Christmas Tree on the Mound in gratitude to the people of Edinburgh and Scotland ,and as a celebration of friendship, shared history and a prosperous future.
"We thank our friends across the North Sea for the help and support we received during the Second World War. The possibilities you gave our military forces and other people in need of a safe haven was essential. Good relationships between neighbours are still important and to strengthen these bonds seems even more important today as we experience how borders are being closed and international friendships dissolve."
Consul of the Norwegian Consulate General in Edinburgh, Mona Røhne said:"There is a positive interest for Norway in Scotland, particularly within culture, academia, business and politics. The tradition of gifting the Christmas Tree symbolises the strong connections between Edinburgh and Vestland. We have a common history going all the way back to the Viking times, we are neighbours, and there is something in the landscape, the people and the culture that have similarities and bind us together.
"In the collaboration Vestland has with Edinburgh, the cultural field has been at the centre, and the Lighting of the Christmas Tree and the traditional Scottish Norwegian Advent concert is a great gateway for collaboration with authorities and other public actors in Scotland."
Report and images courtesy Edinburgh City Council