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:
- A Thanksgiving story: How the Netherlands played a part in the American holiday
- Thanksgiving in the Home of the Pilgrims
- Founding Fathers and the Dutch Origin of Thanksgiving Day
- They Celebrate American Thanksgiving in the Netherlands
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.
- Nov. 10 - Thanksgiving Dinner in the Naarden Vesting (’t Gooi)
- Nov. 28 - Thanksgiving Dinner in Amsterdam
- Nov. 28 - Thanksgiving Pie Night in Haarlem
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
- Slagerij De Leeuw in Amsterdam for a selection of turkeys, stuffing and side dishes (a Tulip Talk advertiser!)
- Butcher Rob in Badhoevedorp
- Reserve a fresh turkey from Chris Kip on the Albert Cuyp Markt or call 06 16 52 04 94.
- Wagenaar Poultry Specialist in Amstelveen
- Hanos for cranberry compote, fresh pumpkin and other specialty ingredients (AWCA members are all eligible for a Hanos membership)
- Marqt for fresh cranberries and pumpkins
- Eichholtz Delicatessen and Tjin's International Foodstore in Amsterdam for canned and packaged ingredients from the U.S.
- Use Albert Heijn online/delivery for a wider selection of products than your local shop. Find items such as cranberry compote, fresh and frozen pumpkin blocks (steam or microwave and puree for pie), American marshmallows and condensed milk.