This week the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a day spent with family and friends celebrating all we are thankful for.
The first Thanksgiving actually combined both European and Native American traditions of celebrating the good harvest. It was this tradition that Pilgrims brought with them to their new land but it was not only the good harvest they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving. They also were celebrating their safe voyage and peace in their new country.
There are quite a few Thanksgiving celebrations held in Europe but I found one that has special ties to the Pilgrims and where you can still enjoy a celebration of Thanksgiving!
A village about 25 miles from Amsterdam was home to many of the Pilgrims for a few years before they set sail for what is now the US. Leiden Holland is where many of the Pilgrims who came to the New World were from and to this day there is a non-denominational service held in Pieterskerk the morning of the US Thanksgiving commemorating the Pilgrims and the role Leiden played in their lives.
The Pilgrims, or Separatists as they were known back in the early 1600’s, fled England for religious freedom. They settled in Leiden before returning to England and boarding the Mayflower for America. It is said that some of the values the Pilgrims cherished, free-market capitalism, civil marriage and separation of church and state, came from their time in Holland.
Located near the mouth of the Rhine River, Leiden is full of canals, old wooden bridges, windmills, churches, and many museums. It is also the birthplace of Rembrandt! Situated in the middle of beautiful meadows and little villages, Leiden is also a great place to rent a bike for a ride among the famous flower fields.
Among the museums in this University town are the National Museum of Antiquities, National Museum of Ethnology and the National History Museum whose collection includes bones from a Dodo. The American Pilgrim Museum may be of interest to those from the US as it is dedicated to the Pilgrims. Set in a house built from 1365-1370, it is furnished in the style that was common to the Pilgrim era.
Pieterskerk, named after the patron saint of the city, was built in the late-Gothic style and is associated with the Pilgrim father’s. Some of the pilgrims are buried here and there is an exhibition on the Pilgrims from Leiden.
Yes this village has a link to the US and I am sure it would be a great place to celebrate Thanksgiving if you can not be at home. But I think it has a lot to offer at other times of year too!
What do you think; would you enjoy spending Thanksgiving in Leiden?