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Thursday this week saw the lighting of the Norwegian Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square, so naturally I made my way down there together with Ewa, Rebecca and Helen, three of my wonderful art history girls. Trafalgar was packed, as this day marks the start of Christmas for many Londoners. Every year since 1947, Norway has granted London an enormous Christmas tree as a token of gratitude for British support during WWII. It comes from the forest outside of Oslo, and this year’s tree was over 80 years old – hence having witnessed the wartime itself. After some pompous trumpet sounds and a few words from the Lord Mayor of Westminster followed by some really stirring words from the Lord Mayor of Oslo, the tree was brilliantly lit in traditional Norwegian white Christmas lights. Unexpectedly they started playing “Ja, vi Elsker”, the Norwegian national anthem, and I almost swelled up in tears wanting to find the Lord Mayor of Oslo and ask him to take me home! Afterwards they played all my favourite English Christmas carols such as “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and “Twelve Days of Christmas” – and for the first time, London gave me the Christmas spirit I had been searching for. Really London, you can do it when you’re not trying too hard with all these carousels, lights and pop-ish Christmas songs. Just stick to the good, old English tradtitions that I love and grew up with.

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Last week I bought an English Christmas pudding from Marks & Spencers. Every Christmas my mom would always bake a traditional English fruitcake with rum and brandy, but if she ever made a Christmas pudding, I never dared to eat it, due to its very scary looking nature. However, now that I am living in England I must adapt myself to the English Christmas customs, and so I will go heat it up in the microwave right away and try it for the first time tonight while commencing on the overly ambitious project of learning 50 new Chinese characters and words in one evening! (That is the price I pay for having spent all day at Hampstead Heath). Keep on enjoying December everyone, and don’t let the hazzards of Christmas preparations get to you! It truly is a wonderful time of year.

Ingredients: Spiced fruits (sultanas, raisins), almonds, breadcrumbs, cider, sherry and rum.

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