A 2020 Thanksgiving in the Netherlands

Many Americans residing in the Netherlands will be spending this Thanksgiving away from home and family, and that can be tough. But in the spirit of giving thanks, let’s focus on the positives.

Dutch people do celebrate Thanksgiving, in their own way. It’s actually not so different than in the US an excuse to get together with family and friends for a big meal. But if you’re an American, you can still celebrate like a true Yankee (a derivative of the Dutch Jan Kees, of course). Here are a few ideas for spending this Thanksgiving in the Netherlands:

Go on a scavenger hunt for all the American staples

Turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie preparing these classic Thanksgiving dishes is absolutely possible, although it will require some extra shopping around. 

A few supplies surprisingly easily found in most grocery stores are stuffing mix, green bean casserole ingredients, and cranberries (although the sauce you’ll have to make yourself).

On the other hand, some basic items like corn syrup (pecan pie) and cocoa powder (countless desserts) can be challenging, though some international stores do stock them. You may find that with certain ingredients like these it’s easiest (and less costly) to turn to an online search or simply change your recipe.

But don’t give up on the elusive canned pumpkin it may not be commonly stocked on the shelves of many supermarkets, but international stores do tend to carry it around this time of year.

If it’s a turkey you’re after, many butchers are hip with the holiday and stock up on birds. A few great options around Amsterdam are: 

There are many more so check with the butcher nearest you. Turkeys can cost a pretty penny, but if you’re one of the many committed to this tradition, you’ll want to get in quickly as they do tend to sell out. People often preorder way in advance.

For tofurky lovers, get ready for a fun DIY project because the odds of finding that in any freezer around here are slim to none. (But if you do, please let us know).

Have a sleepover at Kimpton de Wit in Amsterdam

If you’re not all about home-cooking, 2020 isn’t really your year. However, there is one excellent option that still allows you to eat outdoors and have a little holiday at the same time. 

At Kimpton de Witt and Celia Amsterdam (the restaurant of the hotel), you can celebrate Thanksgiving in the form of a staycation great for anyone who wants to get out and still be able to usher in the festive season (in Amsterdam, but hey, trying our best here this year).

At this lovely hotel, you’ll experience what they call a “Californian escape” and spend a night in a beautiful room with your sweetheart, or perhaps your best friend. There’s a wine station that opens at 5:00 PM (till 8) and the evening offers a delicious feast from the new restaurant, Celia, located in the hotel. 

Thanksgiving-turkey
Just a little turkey teaser for what’s in store. Image: Kimpton de Wit

Dinner will be an assortment of both small and large plates for sharing. Your culinary adventure begins with roasted ushi pumpkin and red pepper soup and smoked duck breast with black truffle. As the main course, you’ll be served the classic roasted turkey with thyme and mustard. And to answer your question, yes, there will be pumpkin pie!

Availability: from 26 to 28 November 2020 (so more than 1 night available, but make haste);

Price: € 219 for an overnight stay + Thanksgiving dinner for two people, including parking (so you can travel covid-safe) and breakfast.

Reservations can be made via this page or by calling 020 620 0500.

Participate in Giving Tuesday

Keep up the spirit of generosity by participating in Giving Tuesday. It’s described as as a global generosity movement, and it’s all about inspiring others to do good. 

On December 1, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can turn the focus on others by making a contribution to an organisation that’s working for a good cause. The are many Dutch organisations participating in the movement, so you can make contributions that have a direct impact on your own community. 

You can also donate to many organisations working on international development and aid projects. The givingtuesday.nl website makes it easy to look through all the incredible campaigns and find individuals and organisations doing work that matches your own altruistic objectives. 

Monetary donations are always welcome, but for those strapped for cash, there are other ways to participate. Donations of things like coats, blankets, your time, and skills can also make a big difference. So can sharing your story on social media with a #unselfie or #givingtuesday.

Learn about the Dutch-American Thanksgiving connection

The Netherlands does have an actual historical link to the American holiday, believe it or not. A not-so-widely known fact is that the English pilgrims who travelled to the United States on the Mayflower had a nice long stopover in Leiden before making their journey to America. 

The pilgrims had fled religious persecution in England and settled in Leiden, which was the second-biggest city in the Netherlands at the time. They took up jobs in the booming textile industry and spent about 12 years attempting to assimilate while still maintaining their religious beliefs. That proved increasingly difficult so eventually the youngest and fittest set sail for the New World. These pilgrims were, of course, responsible for the first Thanksgiving.

For your holiday reading pleasure, take a look at either of these delightful historical articles on the topic: 

The pilgrims in Leiden: Where were the pilgrims before they sailed to America?

Leiden was key to the origins of Thanksgiving


So while you won’t find a lineup of events or parades, or be able to turkey-hop among large family gatherings, a 2020 Thanksgiving can still be a celebration a very small, sterile, socially-distanced celebration. And since it looks like other upcoming holidays will have a similar vibe this year, check out our tips for finding some cheer through the end of the year.

Do you have plans to celebrate Thanksgiving? Any other suggestions you can offer for a socially-distanced holiday? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels 

Brin Andrews
Brin Andrewshttp://brinandrews.com
Brin is an avid ice cream eater from the US, calling Amsterdam home since early 2019. As a lover of mountains, life below sea level has been a bit of an adjustment, but she manages to stay afloat with long runs, wine, and frequent travel. Incidentally, these are a few of her favourite topics to write about.

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