Racot. A melting pot of culture 2023

Racot. A melting pot of culture 2023


In 2023, 225 years have passed since Antoni Barnaba Jabłonowski sold the Racot estates to Prince Willem van Oranje Nassau, the latter being the first king of the Netherlands. The year 1798 was the beginning of the “melting pot” that we want to remember. The third edition of this initiative of Dr. Emilian Prałat will be dedicated in showing Polish-Dutch interactions in Racot throughout history, in a detailed way, and in a wider context, on Polish lands. The beginnings of the Polish-Dutch connections can be traced back to the beginning of the 16th century, when the followers of Protestantism (specifically a group of Mennonites) had found shelter from the religious wars in Pomerania. The Dutch have been present in Wielkopolska since the 17th century. However, few people know about Wielkopolska’s connections with royalty and the surrounding area. Racot and its surroundings became a place of special encounters between the settlers and colonizers brought in by King Willem and the inhabitants of the region. It wasn’t always an easy coexistence. But there was a peaceful assimilation which occurred quite rapidly that enriched the tradition, culture and history of these lands. Later, the granddaughter of the first king, marrying the Grand Duke von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, united the Dutch royal family with one of the wealthiest families of the Prussian state. The property in Racot, which Princess Zofia received as a wedding gift, became a meeting place for not two, but three nations and their traditions and heritage. Through our initiative, we want not only to recall the events of the past, but also to show their influence, effects  and the values they carry into the present day; intercultural and interreligious dialogue, cooperation, exchange of ideas and traditions, building a diverse and tolerant society. Racot, small and far from larger urban centers, is a great testimony that there were, are and will be places where the above-described ideas could, can and will have a chance to be implemented. 

As part of the “Metling pot of Cultures” 2023,  we are planning several events that will make up an all-day occasion promoting Polish-Dutch contacts. Racot will become an orange enclave on the green map of Wielkopolska, referring to the colours clearly associated with the Dutch royal family.

14:30 church of st. Stanisław Kostka | ecumenical service under the slogan “You, my God and Lord, are my shield, I rely on you”, which is a reference to a fragment of the Dutch anthem.

The church in Racot functioned as a Catholic temple, and then as a Protestant one. The building obviously became an important part of disputes between the residents and the new arrivals and was a source of tension that lasted until the beginning of the 20th century. For this reason, the church is the place where we always start our celebrations at each edition. The place of dispute turns into a place of dialogue, common prayer and presence of historical memory. Thanks to the cooperation between the local parish and the Evangelical community in Leszno, it is now possible to celebrate together prayers for peace, mutual understanding and acknowledged shared memory about the past.

This year all liturgical readings and prayers will be read in Polish, Dutch and German.

15:15 organ recital

The historic interior of the church in Racot, with the galleries added by the Dutch rulers, is a perfect place to present the musical legacy that is the common heritage of Europe. At the same time, it is an opportunity for unique works to be heard on the wonderful instrument funded by the descendants of Princess Zofia and coming from the workshop of the Walter brothers.

16:00 ceremonial courtyard in front of the palace in Racot | official part, guest speeches, commemorative lecture, historical reconstruction

The main part of the celebrations is planned in the formal courtyard in front of the palace, the home of the Jabłonowskis, the kings of the Netherlands and the Saxon-Weimar princes. It will begin with a welcome to the guests and a short introduction to the ceremony. Invited guests will also speak, including provincial and local government authorities and descendants of the former owners of the Racot. We are also planning a small historical reconstruction that will introduce us to the events from years ago.

16:30 palace park | planting three trees: Antoni, Willem and Zofia – whose names commemorate the representatives of three subsequent families that owned the Racot estate.

Planting is an important element of the palace and park complex in Racot. In the times of the Dutch owners, the gardens and the park were transformed. Though, we don’t know exactly what they looked like after these transformations. However, knowing the preferences of the van Oranje-Nassau dynasty, we can guess that the quality of landscape design must have been impressive, after all, we were in a royal residence. In order to celebrate the contribution to the park’s design by Poles, Dutch and Germans, we intend to plant three lime trees – one for Jabłonowski, one for King Willem and one for Princess Sophie. Through planting these three trees, we want to add to the unique character and landscape of Racot – both natural and historical. The trees will be planted by representatives of all three nations.

16:50 garden terrace | special concert – Polish, Dutch and German classical music

A reminder of Polish-Dutch relations is also an opportunity to joyous celebration. Therefore, we are planning an outdoor concert that will present the classical music of all three nations as well as elements of popular music. Let it be an opportunity to meet together in a family, picnic atmosphere, with a fascinating history in the background.

18:00 palace | experience/introduction to Dutch cuisine, guided tours of the palace and coach house (prior reservation required)

In the evening, we invite you to taste Dutch cuisine and learn about this its culinary tradition. We are planning to organize a live cooking show. At the same time, we invite you to visit the palace and the coach house, which is the pride of the Racot Horse Stud. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes.

Around the courtyard you will be able to see an commemorative  poster exhibition presenting the history of Polish-Dutch relations, both past and the present. We also offer art workshops for children.

Depending on the arrangements, we hope that representatives of the partner regions of the ‘Wielkopolskie Voivodeship’ will also come to Racot. It will be an opportunity to get to acquaint ourselves with the wealth of their cultural heritage.

19:30 garden terrace | open air cinema in Racot! Screening of a specially selected Dutch film

The ceremony will end with an open-air cinema. We are planning to screen, at the back of the palace, the Dutch film “When My Dad Turned Into a Bush” („Toen mijn vader een struik werd”) directed by Nicole van Kilsdonk. Toda (Celeste Holsheimer) lives with her dad (Teun Kuilboer) and grandma (Anneke Blok) in an apartment above a bakery. She is a happy and resolute girl whose greatest joy is helping her father bake cookies and inventing new, crazy names for them. One day, however, this idyll is interrupted. An armed conflict breaks out in the country and Tody’s dad must go to war. When things get unsettled in the city, the grandmother decides to send her granddaughter to live with her mother (Noortje Herlaar) who lives abroad.