Hopefully I’m not out of line here, but I like having a little something to point to that symbolizes a place. Sure sometimes these things turn into stereotypes, but there’s something nice about having an object or image that invokes memories or thoughts of Place. In Vermont, for example, maple syrup and fall maple leaves are important informal symbols of my home state.
Holland, naturally, has lots of these sorts of symbols: wooden clogs, windmills, cheese, tulips, etc. But here in Maastricht those things are not entirely appropriate. I don’t know if farmers use wooden shoes much anymore around here, but we don’t have many windmills and the round cheese we usually associate with Holland is from Gouda. Besides, the only tulips we have here are planted in private gardens (or on rotunde).
My suggestion: the humble cherry vlaai.
Vlaai is a Limburgish dish. It is sweet, and it is associated with relaxing in a café along the Muese river or on the Vrijthof in the company of friends. Cherry would make the vlaai red, the color of Maastricht’s official crest. There is something a bit whimsical about vlaai that makes it more approachable than Maastricht’s shield (a great symbol in its own right. I use it on this site.). It also lacks the religious overtones of Maastricht’s angel (again, a fine symbol but not right for everyone).
What’s more, a slice of vlaai can be combined with other visual elements to emphasize particular aspects of Maastricht. Add a small coffee to bring out the sociable aspects of the area, or place against a stone wall to evoke the historical nature of the city. You could even stick a little EU flag out of slice to represent the regions relationship with the rest of Europe. See? Fun.
Of course the great thing about informal symbols is that we don’t need just one. Limburg could probably reasonably adopt some sort of grape symbol because of the local wine production. Or perhaps a stylized building that looks more like our local architecture that the homes along Amsterdam’s canals.
And if you’re curious, here are a few “official” symbols of the region:
Do you have ideas of fun and informal symbols? What reminds you most of the city you live in?
The photo of Vlaai is licensed under a GNL license. This article is not, but you’re welcome to play with the idea all you want. The official symbols are all copyright/trademarked their respective owners.