Ever wondered about the meaning behind the ubiquitous ‘Haw Pin’? Or why some Maastricht street signs are in two languages? Well, this week we’re diving deep and discussing Mestreechs – the Maastricht dialect! Join Lucy, Katrina and special guest Joes Minis as we talk about all things dialect.
This is only part one of our dialect discussion, make sure to check out part two here!
In the Maastricht city centre you might notice that street signs tend to have two parts, the top is in Dutch and the bottom is in dialect (images: left (c) safeandhealthytravel.com, right (c) Vera-Kögelmaier).
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Haw Pin has been used as a term of courage and hope. Above are two posters created for the public, on the left is an A2 size poster by the MVV ( (c) The Limburger) and on the right another popular poster design ( (c) bezoek maastricht, 2020).
The origins of the ‘haw pin’ is hotly contested but there are a few theories! A popular origin myth is that it relates to the garrison and their holding the pin (a stoke) until the last moment during a siege. The first image above shows a drawing of a canon from the regional archives ( (c) RHCL).
The term has also been related to the act of holding the pin which keeps two horses together in a rig like that in the second photograph above showing a brewer’s wagon (bottom), ( (c) RHCL). If the horses bolted, the driver would have to hold the pin (i.e. haw pin) to keep the rig together.
A similar phrase is also used to mean ‘I’m finished working’ or ‘I’m finished’ and likely comes from the stokes used by peat workers who would mark their working spaces with stokes. The first image above (top) shows Dutch peat workers with a stoke ( (c), dehondsrug). Click here to learn more about how many Dutch people made a living by working with peat!
The second image (bottom) shows workers in Maastricht, unemployed but headed to the Peel to find work in Peat bogs or other places (c. 1938, (c) RHCL).
The songs used in this week’s episode are from the ‘Kakkestolemeie’ book and CDs, published in 2013 to help local children learn the dialect. The first song played at the end of the podcast is the ‘Mestreechs Volksleed’, and is the anthem of the city. Above are the lyrics in dialect. The third photograph above (bottom right) is an illustrated version of the score, created by J. Goffin in 1964 ( (c) via forum.mestreechonline.nl).
Roughly translated to English, the lyrics are:
Yes, you are our heart
Maastricht, through all ages.
We always loved you
and shared sadness and joy.
We listened to your old history
Riding a horse on Grandpa’s lap.
Our eyes shone with your glories
Or weeped with your need.
How many times have you been given up
but still kept your crown upright
and have remained unbroken
by our bond of loyalty to you.
That is why we reach out
our eyes to the starlight
and if that eye is ever broken
then pray for us the old Maastricht.
( Google translated from the Dutch translation, (c) muzikum.eu).
Above is a video of Andre Rieu in Maastricht, playing the Mestreechs Volksleed and ‘Mestreech is neet breid’ with his orchestra in July 2019 ( (c) Andre Rieu on YouTube).
The second music clip in the podcast is from the song ‘Traditioneel Leedsjes’ in the Kakkestolemeie book mentioned above. Here you can see the accompanying illustration and lyrics.
As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!