Edinburgh Christmas tree lights turned on at The Mound to mark beginning of the Capital’s festive season
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Edinburgh’s festive period officially began last night as crowds gathered to watch the city’s Christmas tree light up in a ritual that goes back decades.
The Depute Lord Provost joined a delegation from Vestland County Council in Norway and representatives from Edinburgh Candlemakers to light the tree on The Mound, which has become an iconic symbol in Edinburgh’s city centre during the festive period. A piper headed the procession before the lights were turned on at approximately 4.30pm yesterday.
Norway first gifted Edinburgh a Christmas tree in 1947 as a symbol of gratitude to Scotland for their support during the Second World War. More than 7,000 exiles were based in Scotland as the Norwegian Brigade fought to free the country from Nazi occupation. In 2008 it was decided the tree would be sourced from Scotland, but it remains a cherished gift from Vestland County Council.
Speaking at the event, Depute Lord Provost Lezley Marion Cameron: “For over 30 years now our city has enjoyed the most wonderful and generous gift of a beautiful tree from Vestland County Council in thanks for the support Scotland gave to Norway during World War two. It truly is a wonderful symbol of this special bond and friendship between our two countries. And I am delighted, honoured and proud to mark the start of Edinburgh’s Christmas period 2023.”
The Depute Lord Provost added: “I hope Edinburgh residents and visitors alike will enjoy the opportunity to view this beautiful Christmas Tree in the heart of our city."
Jacob Nødseth, leader of the culture committee at Vestland council, said presenting Scotland with a Christmas tree was a symbol of gratitude, celebration and shared history. Speaking to the Evening News, he said: “You might say that the North Sea divides our two countries but during the Second World War the connected our two nations. Many people from Norway during the German occupation travelled by boat to Scotland so it was very important. It’s a wonderful city and coming back to Edinburgh is always a great experience.”
Addressing the crowd that gathered on the Mound Mr Nødseth said: “The possibilities you gave our military forces and other people in need of a safe haven was essential. Good relationships between neighbours is still important and to strengthen these bonds seems even more important today as we experience how borders across the world are being closed and international friendship dissolved. We wish you a happy Christmas and a more peaceful 2024.”
The Depute Lord Provost told the Evening News that turning on the Christmas lights on the 18-metre tree was an honour. Cllr Cameron said: “As we start gearing up for Christmas it’s a tough tough time for people so I think looking forward to Christmas, having a bit of Christmas cheer and being together with friends and family as much as we can is always a great thing to do.”
She added: “Sadly not everybody can enjoy or spend Christmas with friends and family but I know that here in Edinburgh that many people and organisation throughout the city will be trying to support people so that they can experience some Christmas joy and cheer too.”