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Typically Limburgish: Responses

My Typical Limburg, Typical Dutch post generated a good deal of discussion and many people shared excellent ideas about what makes Limburg distinctive. For your consideration, here’s a list of what we came up with:

Geography

Geography is one thing that’s quite obvious if you’ve every hopped on a bike and explored any part of the Netherlands. Limburg is hilly compared to the rest of the Netherlands; hilly enough that I don’t like biking here without at least a three-speed. The region is also very close to Belgium, German, and (sort of) France and that proximity has had a huge influence on all the other things that make Limburg distinct from other parts of the Netherlands

Language

Lots of people commented on the language differences. Many communities in Limburg have preserved their own dialects and they are often so different that native Dutch speakers not from this region cannot understand the dialects. Frank (no website), who was born in Kerkrade referenced “above the river” as the point where the dialects become distinctly “Limburgse”. The various dialects are influenced by their proximity bordering countries, so may be influenced by German and French.

Invader_Stu also noted that the Dutch accent is different in Maastricht; the most notable difference being the softer ‘g’. Aledys Ver thinks it sounds “less flat” and a bit funny.

Religion

Specifically Catholicism, Judy explains that the Calvinist influences never quite made it south of “the rivers”, partially because the region wasn’t always part of Holland. In fact it was part of Beglium for a while, which is also a predominately Catholic area. You can read her much more detailed discussion of how Netherlands does not always equal Dutch. It’s well worth your time.

I’ve observed the influence of Catholicism on Maastricht as well. The architecture is filled with shines and biblical motifs, not to mention the large number of cathedrals and other religious buildings that have now been turn over to secular uses (notably the University has many formally Catholic church-owned buildings).

Attitude

Dave Hampton, an expat who use to live in Arnhem and now lives in Maastricht, feels that the city is more international (than Arnhem anyway), probably because of the University or it’s proximity to other countries. He feels that life here is less intense overall than up North; people laugh more easily and are more social. On the downside his experience has been that customer service is much slower and less attentive. There is a strong sense of history in the area, but, Dave observes, people in Limburg still identify strong as Dutch when faced with comparisons with other countries.

Judy attributes a local appreciation for fine clothing and good food (Maastricht is a popular shopping and dining area) to the area’s Catholic heritage.

Celebrations

Dave noticed that celebrations tend to be more colorful and noisier than those up North, although things like Queens Day and football are more casually observed.

I think that people in Maastricht just to love any excuse to dress up.

Food

I already knew that the foods can be quite different here, but Dave thinks the beer and chocolate is better thanks to the proximity to Belgium. Waffles (thanks Judy) are just one more notable influence (although Belgian waffles really do taste better in Belgium).

Melissa noted with glee that you can a slice of vlaai in Maastricht when invited for coffee instead of (only one) cookie.

Ultimately, as Judy notes, these differences are “small ‘taters” to the new expat who isn’t going to recognize differences in light of the greater differences between the Netherlands in general and their own culture. But it’s fun to explore what creates this strong sense of Limburg-ness and I, for one, have learned a lot. Thank you to everyone who commented

I suppose if I were to pick something arbitrarily to symbolize Limburg, it would probably a slice of vlaai and small coffee. Tastier to than wooden shoes anyway. ;-)

Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thought in the comments.

11 Responses to “Typically Limburgish: Responses”

  1. Alison says:

    I haven’t actually tried vlaai yet. I think it’s time for me to explore more of the Limburg traditions. ;)

    Thanks for doing this post. It’s interesting, since I’ve been having a similar conversation with some friends about the differences between the northern and southern parts of the country.

  2. Amanda says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. Vlaai is pretty tasty. I prefer it to the “appel gebak”, which it just too tall of a pie for me.

  3. Gemma says:

    It’s interesting to see how two sides of the same country can differ so much. My other half and I often have this conversation when we talk about the Netherlands, he comes from the south and now lives in Rotterdam so we usually compare those two :)
    Another really great post :)

  4. Aledys Ver says:

    I enjoyed this post and the previous one, of course, a lot. I agree with the different points you’ve marked – all of them.
    I have to say that when I spent a few days in the area and especially during my visit to Maastricht, I even suggested to my (from north of the rivers) husband that we should move there, bec. it feels culturally closer to where I come from. Plus, I have the advantage of already speaking Dutch with a soft “g” bec. of my mother tongue being Spanish! :D
    Excellent post!

  5. Judy says:

    I’m more of a fan of the tompouces (tom-pooses) more than the vlaai for some reason. That is, I like the *concept* of a tompouce, but I’ve never managed to eat one successfully, defined as where more of the tompouce ends up inside me than outside me :-)

  6. Amanda says:

    I’ve actually never had tompouce, although I’ve seen it in the store. Maybe I should investigate. :)

  7. Maureen says:

    Looks like a beautiful and interesting rich place to me! This really makes me want to visit and explore Holland. :D

  8. Amanda says:

    It definately is. I love the Maastricht area even when I’m dealing with expat/culture shock stuff. But don’t call it ‘Holland’, this area is “the Netherlands”. ;)

  9. Maureen says:

    Ah I’m sorry for that LOL :D

  10. Kim says:

    Sounds fascinating! I spent one day in Amsterdam, and have always wanted to go back and spend some time exploring the Netherlands. What a beautiful pastoral setting in your photo!

  11. Amanda says:

    Glad you like it. I really believe people need to see more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. I like Amsterdam a lot, but it is such a different place from so many other regions in the Netherlands. That probably holds true for most countries come to think of it…