December 17, 2017

Thanksgiving in Holland?

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!

Leiden harbour Holland

Leiden harbour by Qiou87, on Flickr

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.

East Gate in Lieden Holland by Erik Zachte

East Gate by Erik Zachte

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.

Rhine in Leiden Holland

Rhine in Leiden by Erik Zachte

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.

Windmill Museum in Leiden Holland

Windmill in Leiden by Erik Zachte

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.

West Gate Leiden Holland by Erik Zachte

West Gate by Erik Zachte

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?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all where ever you are in the world!!!

European Villages Discovered – Giethoorn

In European Villages Discovered-Kuressaare we discovered a small but amazing village in Estonia.  I thought it was time to discover another gem Europe has to offer us.

Today’s excursion takes us to the northwest portion of Holland where we encounter an extremely lovely village that only has canals for roads.

Beautiful and Picturesque Giethoorn Holland

Giethoorn by --{@rwen, on Flickr

There are many reasons to visit Holland – Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam or the cheese and tulips are just a few of the joys waiting for you.  Venturing out from these more well known reasons to visit Holland is a small village that is charming, picturesque and waiting for you to discover it!

House along Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Giethoorn House by Bj.schoenmakers

Sitting about an hour from Amsterdam lies Giethoorn. Known as the “Venice of the Netherlands”, Giethoorn has over 5 miles of canals running through the little village of approximately 2,600 people.

Punts lining the Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Punters by Michel Ehrenhard

Founded by fugitives from the Mediterranean region in 1230, today there are no roads within this old villageWhere did the canals come from?  Peat.

Peat was a big commodity of centuries past and it was the digging of the peat that formed the many small lakes in the area.  The canals were made to transport the peat out to market.

Lovely Thatched Roof House in Giethoorn Holland

Lovely Thatched Roof House by Huji

Today you can enjoy the wonderful canals either by taking a guided canal tour, renting your own “whisper boat” or canoe, or by walking the many paths sprinkled through the village and along the canals.

Bridge over Canal in Giethoorn Holland

Bridge of Giethoorn by CrazyPhunk

Floating the canals will introduce you to the many wooden bridges spanning the canals and the 18th & 19th century thatched roofed houses hiding between the trees. Many of the homes are only reachable via the canals or by crossing one of the many bridges dotting the village.  How cool would it be to arrive home in this manner?

I think this would be one of the most relaxing and wonderful ways to spend a few hours or a day.  Picnic anyone?

Giethoorn Holland

giethoorn by sara_vh, on Flickr

Geithoorn is a wonderful little village that is full of unparalleled beauty. The beautiful and peaceful atmosphere of this village is  calling me to visit.

Does it call you?  Do you have a favorite small European village to share?