Iceland unhappy with Norway over Christmas tree snub

Iceland has reacted angrily to a proposal by the mayor of Oslo to stop sending a Christmas tree to Reykjavik, a tradition that has been ongoing for more than 50 years.

Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang wrote to Jon Gnarr, the mayor of Reykjavik, earlier in April saying that rather than sending a tree, Oslo should pay for the felling of one in Iceland. He explained that in recent years certain problems had arisen from shipping the tree to Iceland, which encouraged Oslo to consider different ways of maintaining the tradition.

Stang said that one way could be to fell a tree from forests outside the Icelandic capital that have been grown over the past six decades with the help of Norwegian foresters. He claimed that if they could find the tree in Iceland it would be far more environmentally friendly.

Oslo’s city council said that bringing an end to shipping the annual tree would save it 180,000 kroner.

Gnarr reacted by describing the proposal as “sad” and noted that Iceland had done many things for Norway over the years. He pointed out that Heimskringla, the Norse sage, was written by an Icelander and was the foundation for Norwegian independence, before sarcastically saying “who cares about some old books anyway?”

Relations between the two Nordic countries have been strained of late after talks on mackerel quotas broke down last month.

Icelander Tómas Frosti Sæmundsson, who lives in Norway, posted on Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper’s website that Fabian Stang had insulted an entire nation and told him to “shove the tree up your whatever”.