Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oslo (through an expat’s eyes)

Picture from the official Facebook page of the event Julegrantenning på Universitetsplassen – 100-årsjubileum!

By Lidia

It’s been a tradition in Oslo since 1919 that people from Oslo would gather together at the Universitetsplassen and celebrate the beginning of advent and lighten a Christmas tree. And last year was not an exception.

Truth to be told it took me a while to find out where and when was the main Christmas Christmas lighting ceremony in 2018. There was no information in English and somehow I formulated it incorrectly in Norwegian. Finally, I asked a couple of journalists at some Media conference in Oslo about it and they showed me a Facebook page of the event. Although there were only a brief description and a program, I decided right there and then that I was definitely going.

I came to the place slightly early at 15:50 and there was almost no one at the square in front of Jernbarnetorget. Since it was raining I was nervous that the torchlight parade would be canceled so I was checking my phone every single minute. But just in half an hour, the square was full, the musicians were ready to go and I had my torch. The parade started at 16:30 sharp. Despite the rain, everyone was quite happy and the atmosphere was rather relaxed. The closer we were to our destination, the faster and the more cheerful the music was. By the time the procession reached Universitetsplassen, everyone’s torches went out. The musicians from the parade finished their last song, people were given time to find a place on the square and the tree lighting ceremony has officially begun.

After the Christmas tree was lightened, Marianne Borgen a current mayor of Oslo gave a speech. She reminded people of the roots of the event and that next year there would be a 100 years Anniversary Ceremony. She also mentioned that when she was a kid, every year her parents used to bring her to the Universitetsplassen to watch a Christmas Tree Lighting and that she has the best memories of that.

The mayor shared some information about the tree as well. This 22 meters high tree from Lillomarka was 75 years old. It started to grow in the middle of World War II in 1943. This fact made her thinking of how lucky we are that we are living now and in a peaceful country and asked people to take care of each other. As when we are all together, we all are less alone. So she wished everyone Merry and Peaceful Christmas.

When the speeches were over, the choir started singing and people were asked to gather around the Christmas tree. Before each song, brief instructions were given. To my surprise, people actually followed those. They were walking around the tree, holding each other’s hands, clapping and tapping. That was unbelievable. This is a side of Norwegians that we don’t get to see often. Usually, in everyday life, people are more reserved, but at that moment everyone was so open. And I am not speaking about the kids, because the majority were the adults. And they were smiling and laughing.

One of my favorite songs of that evening was “Så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk”: I googled it when I came home. It can be translated as “Then we go around a juniper bush”. So every time there was a refrain starting with this phrase, people were walking around the tree and then they stopped and portrayed whatever was in the lyrics: doing laundry, hanging, rolling and ironing their clothes, cleaning the floors and going to the church. It was a lot of fun to watch and I really wanted to join in, but since it was the first time I actually heard the song, I found it rather challenging.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the atmosphere, the torchlight parade, and the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Too bad I can’t make it to this 100 years Anniversary Ceremony at the Universitetsplassen in Oslo, which will be on the first Advent Sunday. So if you are in Oslo on December 1, 2019, don’t miss the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, cause it’s going to be even bigger and better.

/2.12.2018, torchlight parade from Jernbarnetorget to the Universitetsplassen & Christmas Lighting Ceremony at the Universitetsplassen/

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