What Is Oktoberfest Celebration?

It’s time to bring out your new fall outfit, which includes sweaters, boots, scarves, and… lederhosen? Autumn offers many wonderful things, such as apple picking, Halloween, and anything pumpkin spiced, but the greatest of them all is Oktoberfest, a German fall celebration that celebrates everyone’s favorite things: food, beer, and merriment.

But, you might wonder, what exactly is Oktoberfest. Sure, you’ve been celebrating since you were old enough to handle a stein at beer halls and fairs, but what is the celebration truly about? And why is it called that if the event takes place in September? Allow me to explain why this is one of the greatest of all the festivities.

What is Oktoberfest, exactly?

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest folk festival. Thousands of people travel from all over the world to Munich, Bavaria, Germany to eat traditional Bavarian foods, listen to traditional music, dress in traditional Bavarian garb (lederhosen for men, dirndl for women, and tirolerhute unisex hats), and, of course, drink the world-famous Oktoberfest/Marzen beer. It is observed between the middle of September and the beginning of October. The festival kicks off with the same opening ceremony that has taken place every year since 1950. The mayor of Munich pours the first glass of beer from the first keg and presents it to the person being honored, generally the Prime Minister or another minister present.

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What is the significance of Oktoberfest?

The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in the year 1810 to commemorate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The celebrations began on October 12, 1810, and culminated with a horse race on October 17th. The events were repeated in subsequent years, and the festival was eventually extended and brought forward into September.

Oktoberfest’s exact dates and duration change from year to year. The driving date is the first Saturday after September 15th, which also happens to be the start of the festival. The concluding day of the festival is always the first Sunday in October, unless the last weekend falls on October 1st or 2nd, in which case the length is extended to October 3rd, which is a German national holiday.

Oktoberfest and September

The activities were moved early to take advantage of improved weather. Because the September nights were milder, guests were able to spend more time outside the tents enjoying the gardens and strolling around “die Wiesen,” or the fields, without becoming cold. The final Oktoberfest weekend occurred in October in the past, and the tradition continues now.

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What is the difference between an Oktoberfest Beer and a Marzen Beer?

Oktoberfest beer, often known as Marzen, is a Märzen made specifically for Oktoberfest. Since 1818, it has been offered at the festival at a gravity that is 2% higher than ordinary beers.

Oktoberfest beers were traditionally lagers with an ABV of 5.5 to 6. They’re made in March and ferment over the course of the summer. Originally, they were dark lagers, but their color has gradually lightened. They’ve been a golden color since 1990. Darker variants are still made by certain Munich brewers, although these are mostly for export to the United States.

Some interesting facts about Oktoberfest

Now you have a basic understanding on what Oktoberfest is all about. While keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Oktoberfest.

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Oktoberfest is a traditional festival

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest yearly folk festival and beer festival. It was originally commemorated in 1810, on the occasion of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12.

The whole public was encouraged to take part in a large folk festival-style event that lasted several days. The festival, which was planned as an agricultural fair with horse races, drew almost 40,000 Germans. Prior to then, no commoners were invited to royal feasts. The celebrations were so successful that it was agreed that the Oktoberfest would be held every year after that. Beer was not offered at the event until 1818, which means that Oktoberfest will be celebrating its 201st anniversary in 2019! That’s fantastic!

Every autumn, nearly six million visitors from Germany and across the world go to Munich for the world’s largest and longest-running beer festival, the Oktoberfest.

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Oktoberfest and the Wisen

The space where the festival takes place must be rather large, given all of the events that take place during the length of the event. Yes, it is. The huge fields where Oktoberfest is held each year are known as Theresienwiese or simply Wiesn.

In English, the term “wiesn” means “open grassy area/meadow” or “fairgrounds.” In Munich’s city center, the area covers 420,000 square meters. This is the equivalent of 78 football fields, including end zones!

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Oktoberfest begins in September

One would think that the event would take place in October, given its name. In actuality, the event is held in September for the majority of its two-week span. In 1872, because to bad weather, Oktoberfest was moved to September. Since then, the festival has been moved back to September, but the name has stayed the same.

Oktoberfest’s exact dates and duration change from year to year. The driving date is the first Saturday after September 15th, which also happens to be the start of the festival. The concluding day of the festival is always the first Sunday in October, unless the last weekend falls on October 1st or 2nd, in which case the length is extended to October 3rd, which is a German national holiday.

Oktoberfest and beer

Each of the few most recent festivals drank almost 8 million gallons of beer. The most renowned Munich beer style was known as Bayerische Märzenbier or Märzen for short when the first beer booths were brought to the festival in 1818. When there was no refrigeration, it was brewed in March (thus the name Märzen, which comes from the German word for March). It was then aged in cool cellars for the rest of the summer until it was ready to eat in early autumn.

Oktoberfest Marzen was originally a dark amber-colored lager. Crisp, medium-bodied, delicious, and slightly stronger than conventional light lagers in terms of alcohol level.

Festbier has mostly supplanted Marzen in recent years, and it has a lighter hue than the original copper tint (mostly due to mass preferences for lighter lagers). Six classic Munich breweries, including Spaten, Augustiner, Hacker- Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, and, of course, Paulaner, have produced it particularly for the festival.

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The Mass

Mass – short for Maßkrug – is the enormous, dimpled stein (glass mug) in which Oktoberfest beer is typically served. The term is pronounced appropriately with a lengthy ‘a’ sound. It gets its name from the German term Maß, which refers to an ancient standard mug that holds exactly one liter of beer.

Because liter steins full of beer are fairly heavy, most individuals thread their palm through the handle and place their thumb on the other side of the stein to support the weight of their Mass. This is both practical and acceptable. When toasting with a group of people, however, it is preferable (albeit somewhat more awkward) to simply hold the Mass by the handle. Oktoberfest veterans will undoubtedly agree!

The explanation is simple: in a raucous toast involving multiple toasters, one’s knuckles and fingers might easily be shattered. Your fingers will be safe from the impact of the numerous hefty steins clinking if you hold the Mass by the handle.

Serving Oktoberfest beer

Following the introduction of beer to Oktoberfest, it was offered at a variety of beer booths. In 1867, Michael Schottenhamel, a local carpenter and operator of a hotel, established the first beer tent beside the King’s festival tent. Over time, it has attained a significant status.

The Schottenhamel tent was used by the Munich mayor to start the inaugural Oktoberfest event in 1950. The mayor tapped a vessel full of Oktoberfestbier and said, “O’zapft is,” which means “It’s been tapped” in Bavarian dialect.

This marked the commencement of an important Oktoberfest tradition: no beer may be poured until the mayor of the city taps the first keg and proclaims the Oktoberfest officially open.

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Food is important as beer at Oktoberfest

We’ve compiled a list of the Most Popular Traditional Food offered at Oktoberfest, which you may peruse at your leisure. Bavarian soft pretzels, Obatzda beer cheese, Käsespätzle, Steckerlfisch (Fish on a Stick), Schweinshaxe (Roasted Pork Knuckle), Currywurst, Schweinebraten, Bratkartoffeln, Kartoffelpuffer, Schnitzel, and Wiesnhendl (Oktoberfest roast chicken) are all consumed in large quantities during Oktoberfest. There is something for everyone, including a variety of vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Traditional clothes and Oktoberfest

Visitors from all over the world now love donning the traditional attire used at Oktoberfest and other Bavarian folk festivals. Lederhosen and dirndls can be seen in abundance.

However, this is a relatively new occurrence. People used to come to the festival dressed up in their best attire – fancy gowns and tuxedos were frequent. Clothing requirements were later eased, and ordinary, casual goods like jeans, trousers, and t-shirts became commonplace.

Traditional Bavarian costumes were originally worn at the festival in the 1960s and have since grown in popularity to the point that Bavarian ladies may now pick from a variety of dirndls, while most international tourists arrive dressed in traditional garb. It was a blast all around!

Some claim that at the Oktoberfest, the exact same popular tune is played every 10 minutes. We haven’t measured the intervals ourselves, but they sound accurate — that’s how popular the song is!

‘Prosit der Gemutlichkeit’ is the most popular Oktoberfest song. “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit…” runs the chant. (‘A toast, a toast…’) You’ve undoubtedly heard it a few times already.

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What makes Oktoberfest unique?

Autumn is the first thing that comes to mind as the leaves begin to change and the temperature begins to chill. Others, on the other hand, may think of beer, bratwurst, and perhaps a soft pretzel or three… What’s the point of this? Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest has been a time-honored and beloved German institution since 1810. While it wasn’t originally recognized as the Oktoberfest we know today, it’s still a folk festival held in Munich for up to 18 days and has spread all over the world, even to the United States. Many breweries and cities with a German past, such as Stowe, Vermont, where the Von Trapp Lodge is located, are unfamiliar with Oktoberfest.

The official Oktoberfest in Munich attracts almost six million visitors each year, and while everything has been canceled or postponed for 2020, there are still opportunities to participate in one of the most thrilling events on the German calendar. Oktoberfest’s major focus is a celebration of Bavarian heritage, which includes, of course, beer (and a lot of yummy German foods). The event has now spread throughout the world, with various countries taking part in their own unique ways. Surprisingly, the custom has a more serious beginning as a wedding celebration.

It was a national occasion when Bavarian Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Although the wedding took place in October, Oktoberfest is recognized for starting in September and lasting until mid-October, a far cry from the original multi-day event.

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Visiting Oktoberfest

The gates are still standing today, and the fields, known as the Wies’n by locals, now host the world’s largest beer festival: Oktoberfest! What began as a modest wedding party has grown into a 17- or 18-day festival attended by 7 million people from all over the world, with over 6 million liters of Bavarian beer consumed. That’s 1,000,000 liters of beer! The formal start of Oktoberfest is at noon on the second to last Saturday in September, when the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel in the Schottenhamel Tent, exclaiming “O’zapft is” (It’s open). Following German reunification day on October 5, the event finishes on the first Sunday of October.

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