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As most of you are aware of Thanksgiving is a North American holiday celebrated in the USA and Canada. It is actually today as I write this piece that millions of Americans spend the day with their families stuffing a Turkey, stuffing themselves and watching football on TV. Unlike the American aspects of Christmas (Santa, trees, presents) the thanksgiving festival remained more or less in the new world and didn’t gain much popularity, here across the pond. Interestingly, it is still mentioned regularly in the St. Peter’s church Pieterskerk in Leiden, The Netherlands. On the morning of the American
Thanksgiving Day a non denominational ceremony is conducted in this church. In memory of a group of people which left Leiden to settle the New World.

Leiden is a beautiful city, located approximately halfway between Amsterdam and The Hague. It is a great place to visit, it boasts the second largest intact 17th’ century city center and the oldest university in The Netherlands, amongst other attractions. It took a pivotal role in the history of this country (notably it was where the Dutch constitution was written in 1848). And on the international level the greatest “claim to fame” is the hosting for 11 years of the religious group of English refugees later to be known as the “Pilgrim Fathers” in American history. This group, which left England to find religious freedom in The Netherlands settled and prospered to some extent in Leiden in the beginning of the 17th century. Worries about assimilation made them decide to leave and establish a colony in North America. In an epic sea journey on The Mayflower many members of the Leiden congregation, made it across the Atlantic and established what was named the Plymouth Colony which became the oldest continuously settled colony in what was to become the USA. The Pastor of the group in Leiden John Robinson, didn’t make it to the new colony. He is buried in the Pieterskerk beside some other important historical figures.

So when you are thankful for the bounty, for family and friends and for good football. Don’t forget to be a little thankful for the Dutch and for The Netherlands for being so hospitable back then. And if you happen to stop by anytime soon let us show you we still know how to treat our guests…


So much to discover,

we can’t wait for our next holiday

James Croll
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