Thanksgiving is a very American holiday. What I didn’t know until I moved to the Netherlands is the Dutch connection to the holiday. After leaving England and before arriving in Plymouth the pilgrims lived in Leiden for 12 years. So celebrating Thanksgiving in the Netherlands as an American is a very special event.
We began the day by giving thanks at the annual Thanksgiving Day Service at the historic Pieterskerk in Leiden. This a non-denominational combined a civil ceremony with a Service of Thanksgiving and was attended by a representative of the United States who delivered the President’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.
After the service, we paid a visit to the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. The furnishings from Pilgrim times along with 16th and 17th century maps and engravings are all used to tell the history of the pilgrims in Leiden. We got to see how living in the Netherlands for 12 years influenced the pilgrims and how these influences in turn became a part of American culture.
The day ended at home with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I was particularly proud of the stuedel topping I made for the pumpkin pie using pepernoten, a cookie associated with the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas that is similar in taste to gingerbread. Another Dutch connection is given to this very American holiday.