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The term ‘Hannekenmaaiers’ refers to the many German seasonal workers who worked in the peat industry in Drenthe between the 17th and 19th century. The word ‘Hanneken’ comes from the name ‘Johannes’ or John, which was derived from St John's Day on 24 June. That was the day on which the seasonal work would begin every year. The word ‘maaien’ is Dutch for cutting grass. That was the work the first German labourers did.
Every year, the German labourers travelled to Drenthe on foot from places like Westfalen and county Lingen. During their journey, they carried goods to sell with them from Germany, as a way to make a little extra money. The labourers stayed in one of the many peat colonies.