Monday, December 16, 2013

Leiden Thanksgiving 2013

Now that my fall semester of classes is over, I finally have time to catch up with blog writing!  I never blogged about Thanksgiving, so here's the scoop!

A few weeks ago, I visited the city of Leiden with a woman from our church district.  You can read more at this link: Instagram Travel Thursday: Leiden.  While there, we swung by the Pieterskerk and checked it out, since I had learned from Farrah of thethreeunder.com of an upcoming Thanksgiving service.

The day started out chilly but with no rain as I headed to Leiden on the train.  This time I tried heading directly to the church on foot, but finished my route with some wandering through the nearby neighborhood.  Fortunately, old churches like the Pieterskerk are very tall and very big, so it's difficult to miss them.


I waited outside where other small groups of people were waiting, most of whom had American accents.  I haven't been around this many Americans since my dad, stepmom, mom, and friend were here for our wedding in September!

Once doors were opened, I found my way to a seat in the fourth or fifth row, just after the section reserved for "Scouts and Pilgrims." The ceremony began with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of all ages bringing in the Dutch flag and American flag.  They were also accompanied by little Pilgrims, perhaps connected to the service organizers.


The service was loosely organized into two parts:  a very American ceremony and a "nondenominational" service of thanksgiving.  I suppose in a way you could say the American part was also representative of "civil religion" found in America -- a mishmash of patriotism and theism.
  • a soloist sang "God Bless America"
  • words from a Dutch descendant of one of the Pilgrims who stayed
  • a reflection on Thanksgiving and food from an African (I think she was from Cameroon) girl who has British citizenship but was raised in the Netherlands and speaks with an American accent 
  • a message/greetings from the US embassy
The nondenominational service included mostly Christian elements, but also a Jewish rabbi -- I suppose because in theory, America is founded on Judeo-Christian values?
  • A responsive reading by a Catholic priest
  • Singing of hymns (by the attendants or soloists)
  • Prayers led by pastors of 
  • "How to be unthankful" - an "invocation" by a pastor of an international church
  • One rabbi (female) read a passage from Leviticus, and another recited the blessing found in Numbers 6 -- in both Hebrew and English!
Leiden Stadhuis (City Hall).  You can see Pieterskerk in the background on the right.
After the ceremony was over, we enjoyed tasty cookies for free but of course needed to pay for our coffee or tea. I met the aforementioned Farrah and her family, along with Ann and her family.  We chatted and got to know each other, and then went on a quest to find a place to eat lunch that could accommodate 5 adults and 5 small kids.

After eating lunch at a restaurant whose name I've forgotten, we parted ways as they headed to the "dinosaur museum" and I wandered around town.


Leiden has canals just like Amsterdam, but definitely maintains a "college town" feel on account of the university.  
Hooglandse Kerk
The American Pilgrim Museum is located on the ground level of this brick building, which also happens to be the oldest house in Leiden.  The downstairs had been used for storage for ages, and needed a lot of restoration work, especially for the windows, before the place could be furnished again.


No flash photography was allowed, so most of my pictures are dark and blurry.  The room has been decorated with period furnishings to give a picture of what a typical Pilgrim house may have looked like.  There was just enough space for a bed, fireplace, table, clothing storage, and also a cellar for preserved food.  The man who re-established this museum has also written a (thick) book about the life of the Pilgrims while they were in Leiden.  


I continued to the "Burcht," a small round fortress on top of a hill that gave panoramic views of the city. Because most of the leaves are off the trees, I could see buildings more clearly.


Another highlight of this trip was the chance to speak with an administrator of another international school (not one that's close to me), which made me more optimistic about finding a position with a nearby school!

My favorite from the day


I love it when the sky is more than one color, and I especially love it when the sun is shining!


In January, I want to buy a Museumkaart, which gives you free or discount admission at many museums around the country.  First on my list in Leiden? Museum Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology).
~*~
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