Last Stavanger Christmas tree to shine in Aberdeen

By Kevin Keane
BBC Scotland reporter, in Stavanger

Media caption,
The tree was cut down earlier this month

The last Christmas Tree in Stavanger is about to go on display in the centre of Aberdeen after the Norwegian city ran out of suitable spruce.

The city has gifted the tree from one of its parks - an annual tradition - but has had to find its own from a different part of the country.

Experts say it will be 20 years before another will be ready for gifting to Aberdeen.

A small crowd gathered for the cutting of the tree.

On a crisp November morning, the country park is filled with Norwegian Spruce and they stretch right across the country.

But only one of the trees in this park is suitable for Christmas.

The man in charge of the city's parks, Per Marcusson, was tasked with finding a tree for Aberdeen.

He says: "It's very difficult to find a nice tree. You see a tree and go 'woah' but when you go around to the other side it's terrible. So this was the nicest tree we found this year."

In the forest, the Mayor of Stavanger, Christine Sagen Helgø watches workmen tentatively remove the tree.

No 'timber' shout

One man climbed to the top to attach a rope and then a crane carefully lifted it clear of the forest.

Nobody shouts "timber".

Ms Helgø says finding such a beautiful tree was hard going.

Image caption,
The tree was cut down earlier this month
Image caption,
The tree travelled by road and then sea

"This is the last tree from this park. We are in a park outside Stavanger and it's very difficult to find these kinds of beautiful trees to send to cities. Next year we have to find another place to get a tree but we'll manage."

The mayor says even Stavanger's own tree - being positioned outside the town hall - has had to come from further afield.

"We're going to a city south of Stavanger called Lyngdal and from that area we are going to have our own tree from Lyngdal to Stavanger, so that tells you how difficult it is."

'The Scottish Time'

Aberdeen first received a Christmas tree from Stavanger in the 1970s but the annual tradition didn't begin until 2005.

This is the 10th to be sent in that period but historian Harald Hamre says the links between the two cities go way back.

He said: "We know from the earliest times there has been close contact, most important during 16th and 17th centuries when dozens of Scottish skippers came with their ships to this region to buy timber and planks and that time was even called the Scottish Time."

Of course the oil industry on both sides of the North Sea has since strengthened those links.

After its long journey across the North Sea, the tree has now been positioned in Aberdeen's Castlegate and the lights will be switched on on Thursday evening.

It will be another two decades before Stavanger can send across another one of its own trees.

But don't worry, there will be a tree next year.

It will just come from another part of Norway.

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