Going Dutch for Thanksgiving

by Beth van Amerongen

(relevant links & events updated for 2019)

What does Thanksgiving have to do with “Going Dutch”? Well, a lot, actually.

If you are an expat living in the Netherlands and will eventually end up in the U.S., you are following in the footsteps of many of the pilgrims. In a nutshell, an English religious group, which was somewhat rebellious, escaped to the Netherlands for its religious tolerance. They first settled in Amsterdam in 1608, where they founded and worshipped at the English Reform Church in the Begijnhof. After a year, the Amsterdam labor guilds proved too restrictive for them, so they moved to Leiden and settled in the vicinity of the Pieterskerk. Assimilating into their new lives didn’t come easily for everyone, including adapting to the more liberal Dutch morals, so in the fall of 1620, roughly three dozen of these expats sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth Colony.

It is even hypothesized that the first Thanksgiving meal was influenced by the Relief of Leiden, a holiday held on October 3rd that's celebrated with a thanksgiving service followed by a meal. You can read more about the Dutch pilgrims in these articles:

The American Book Center has a multitude of resources available for making your Thanksgiving special, including cookbooks and children’s activity books. Visit the ABC website, type “Thanksgiving” and it will yield over 3,600 results! Don’t forget to show your AWCA membership card when you visit them for a 10% discount.

From fresh cranberries and pumpkin available at local supermarkets to restaurants and butchers creating authentic Thanksgiving meals, options abound in Amsterdam and its surrounds. Whether you want to cook an entire meal from scratch, order a catered meal from a butcher, eat at a restaurant, enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with a Dutch twist, eat pies in Haarlem or attend an Interfaith Service in Leiden where it all began, there is something for everyone here in the land where the pilgrims once dwelled.

Interfaith Worship Service

Thursday, Nov. 28, 11 a.m.: Non-denominational Thanksgiving Day Service in the church where the pilgrims worshipped: the Pieterskerk in Leiden.

AWCA Events

All AWCA members, partners, and families are welcome to these area events, but space is limited, so be sure to RSVP.

Restaurants with Thanksgiving Meals

Wyer's Restaurant at the Kimpton De Witt Hotel: See AWCA Event above

Seasons Restaurant: Nov. 27-30, 3- and 4-course Thanksgiving dinners

Cafe Belcampo at De Hallen: Nov. 28

Butchers and Grocery Stores