After the pilgrims left England and before they landed on Plymouth Rock, they arrived in Leiden, The Netherlands where they lived there for 11 years. So while having a traditional Thanksgiving celebration here can be a bit of a challenge, as I explained in this post, there is also something very special about celebrating this very American holiday in the place it started, basically. Here are some of the ways I’ve enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving in Holland over the years.

1.Thanksgiving Day Service
There’s no better way to start your Thanksgiving than by attending a church service and giving thanks, especially when that service is the annual Thanksgiving Day Service at the historic Pieterskerk. The pilgrims recorded their births, marriages and deaths in the church records, and lived in the surrounding neighborhoods during their time in Leiden.


2. Pilgrim Museum
A few blocks from the Pieterskerk is the American Pilgrim Museum. Furnishings from the period, and numerous 16th and 17th century maps and engravings give you an idea of the history of the pilgrims in Leiden. It also gives you a better understanding of how living in The Netherlands influenced the pilgrims and how these influences in turn became a part of American culture.
3. Splurge on a Turkey

They ain’t easy to procure, and are eye-wateringly expensive, but get over all of that, go buy a turkey, make all the traditional side dishes and desserts then invite an international cast to enjoy an American feast. Over the years I’ve had guests from Australia (probably the best, because they are game for anything), Holland (who don’t quite get the pumpkin pie thing) and England (polite, as always, but more fun to invite them to an Independence Day celebration and rub in the fact that we won), all of whom really enjoyed the chance to partake in the Thanksgiving festivities.

Thanksgiving lunch included “smashed” potatoes and cranberry apple crumble.


4. Thanksgiving with International Friends

I don’t always get a turkey or play hostess. In the past I’ve been the invited to celebrate to the home of American friends, joined fellow Americans at their place of employment where a Thanksgiving meal was served for lunch, or shared a bountiful, potluck meal with the congregation of the church I attend. In those years, on the actual day, we give thanks while eating leftovers from the fridge (because not having to cook is a really good reason to give thanks) and continue our tradition of watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!
How are you celebrating the holiday?
What are you thankful for?