Yesterday it was 394 years since Borås received its town privileges – 29th June, 1621.
Since 1990 it’s been a tradition to celebrate this day with cake served in the main square at noon.
A bit of rain does not stop true Boråsians from queueing for (free) cake!
Each year, an "ambassador" for our town is also appointed on this occasion. This year the honour was given to Leon Rytz, 88 years old, born in Poland, and a survivor from German WWII concentration camps like Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. In 1945, after the war – aged 18, and having been imprisoned in various camps since he was 14 – he came to live and build a new life for himself in this town and country. Here he met a woman from similar background (also from Poland) and they got married and started a family, and later a business. Not until decades later did they start talking publically about their horrible experiences from the past.
It was a very moving speech he held yesterday at the ceremony, even though he kept it short and did not go into details. (It would have been well worth going to listen to even without cake!)
I noticed quite a few new immigrants (and perhaps refugees) present at the celebrations in the square. I hope they may have felt encouraged by the speech to believe in a hopeful future for themselves in this country too. And for the rest of us, it was a powerful reminder as well (at least it was for me):
If the tradition continues, who will be standing on the platform to be appointed “ambassador of the year” for this town in 2085? Maybe someone who came here as refugee in 2015 from Syria or Somalia…