Trees and Trains from Norway and Drummers from Denmark

Washington Travel Blog

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Union Station decorated for the holidays
After the Thanksgiving holiday in late November, signs of the December holiday season begin to appear around the USA. Two events in Washington, DC, gave an international flavor to the festivities. The Norwegian Christmas program saw the Embassy of Norway erect a commemorative Christmas Tree at Union Station along with a model train display. Then, the Tivoli Boys Guard from Denmark appeared at the Libray of Congress.

The Embassy of Norway has sponsored a public Christmas tree in Washington, DC, for many years. The tradition began as an acknowledgement of American assistance to Norway during and after World War II and the gesture symbolizes friendship betwen the two countries. Since 1996, the Christmas tree has become the centerpiece of the Norwegain Christmas at Union Station.
Norwegian Christmas Tree
In additon to the tree, there are a large Norwegian-themed model train display, Norwegian musical performers, and Norwegian cuisine at one of the cafes at the station.

I headed off to Union Station to see the displays. Union Station itself was already in holiday mode, decorated with large green wreaths outside and white and gold wreaths inside. The Norwegian Christmas Tree is set up in the station's Grand Concourse and immediately grabs one's attention. The tree is decorated with Norwegian and American flags (both being red, white, and blue). The train layout is set up in a side concourse.  The layout represents a whimsical Norwegian winter landscape, with a fijord, mountains, villages, a farm, ice skaters, lots of snow, and, of course, many trolls! A passenger train and a freight train run around the main layout.
Norwegian Christmas Festival
Santa Claus (er, I mean Julenissen) also traverses the scene riding his own handcar. (He has to beware of a troll at one bridge!) The display is huge, occupying nearly the entire side concourse! Lots of people were there to see the train layout, travelers and those, like, me who had come to see the display.

In keeping with the Scandianvian theme, the Tivoli Boys Guard gave a concert appearance at the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress. Founded in 1844 The Tivoli Boys Guard is a musical group consisting of boys between 9 and 16 years of age. They perform at festivals at Tivoli in Copenhagen. A small unit of the group appeared in Washington--a drum major, three drummers and four fifers. They played their own tunes and added Christmas tunes like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and American tunes like "Oh, Susanna!" to the mix, much to the delight of the appreciative audience.
Norwegian Holiday model train layout
If one did not have the Christmas spirit before, one had it now!

Update: Two and a half weeks later I returned to Union Station to sample the holiday Norwegian Menu at Center Cafe in the station. Two luncheon main dishes were offered:  Pan Fried Halibut and a Lamb Rack.  Both dishes were developed by the Norwegian Embassy chef, who previously was chef at an Oslo restaurant. I imagine the halibut represents Norway's seafaring and the lamb its farming. I selected the lamb.  It was very good, served in a tasty red wine sauce and accompanied by a rutabaga (yellow turnip) puree and fried new potatoes.

Vikram says:
Another fantastic report!
Posted on: Dec 23, 2008
Andy99 says:
The Norwegian Christmas tree is on display until December 27 and the model train layout until January 4.
Posted on: Dec 09, 2008
diisha392 says:
Will the display be up for a couple of weeks? I'm hoping to head into DC either this weekend or next, and I'd like to see this!
Posted on: Dec 08, 2008
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Union Station decorated for the ho…
Union Station decorated for the h…
Norwegian Christmas Tree
Norwegian Christmas Tree
Norwegian Christmas Festival
Norwegian Christmas Festival
Norwegian Holiday model train layo…
Norwegian Holiday model train lay…
Norwegian fishing village
Norwegian fishing village
Mountain Troll!
Mountain Troll!
Norwegian farm in snow
Norwegian farm in snow
Norwegian mountains and train
Norwegian mountains and train
Norwegian model train
Norwegian model train
Troll at the bridge
Troll at the bridge
Norwegian Lamb Rack at Center Cafe
Norwegian Lamb Rack at Center Cafe
Union Station decorations
Union Station decorations
Union Station decorated for the ho…
Union Station decorated for the h…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Libr…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Lib…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Libr…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Lib…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Libr…
Tivoli Boys Guard performs at Lib…