What is Oktoberfest – Oktoberfest, a German folk festival is the largest Volksfest in the whole world. It is a 16-18-days long fest that starts somewhere in the middle or end of the September month and goes on until the first weekend of October, so is the name ‘Oktoberfest’.
What is Oktoberfest
The Oktoberfest is held every year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany wherein around 6 million people from around the globe are seen taking part in various events taking organised in the fest. Oktoberfest is basically an occasion where beer festival and travelling funfairs are arranged every year.
The fest is been observed since the middle ages and is one of the most significant Bavarian traditions. Some other cities across the world also observe the Oktoberfest since the modeling of the original Munich event.
Large amounts of the Oktoberfest Beer are consumed by the people attending the fest. In the Oktoberfest of 2013, about 7.7 million liters of Oktoberfest Beer was served in those 16 days of celebrations.
The people attending the events are mainly attracted towards the various amusement rides, funfair stalls, games, etc. all organised for the two-week long occasion. Along with all these, the most important one is the variety of traditional food that includes the best Bavarian delicacies.
The vegetarian menu usually consists of:
• Knödel (dumplings made of potato or bread),
• Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes),
• Käsespätzle (cheese noodles),
• SauerkrautorRotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage),
• Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzels),
• Obatzda (a spicy cheese-butter spread)
• Weißwurst (a white sausage)
The dishes that include the non-vegetarian menu are generally:
• a Hendl (roast chicken),
• Schweinebraten (roast pork),
• Schweinshaxe (a grilled ham hock)
• Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)
This 16-day long celebration was modified in 1994 at the time of German reunion. On 3rd October is the German Unity Day. It was planned that if the October’s first Sunday falls on the 1st or 2nd October, the celebrations would be extended uptil 3rd October, i.e. the German Unity Day.
Thus, if the first Sunday of the October month falls on 1st, the celebrations would last for 17 days, and if it falls on 2nd October, the celebrations would end up on the 18th day. In 2010, the celebrations lasted for 19 days, i.e. until 4th October (first Monday of the month). The reason behind this was the bicentenary (200th anniversary) of the Oktoberfest event.
The later King Ludwig I i.e., Kronprinz Ludwig (reign: 1825-1848), had married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12th October, 1810. On the ground in front of the city gates, festivities took place in order to celebrate the imperial event and the citizens of Munich were invited.
The ground was then named after the Princess Therese, Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow), honoring her and is still known by the same name since their marriage ceremony. Some local people have abbreviated it to ‘Wiesn’ to keep it simple.
In order to honor the newly-wed couple, horse races were organised on 17th October. Horse race is a tradition followed in the Munch since the 15th century which was an idea developed by Andreas Michael Dall’Armi, who was a Major in the National Guard.
In fact, the ideas of horse races and Oktoberfest were supposed to be proposed by Franz Baumgartner. He was a coachman and Sergeant in the National Guard. The actual origins of the two events still remain a matter of controversy, but then in the 19th century i.e. in 1811, the horse races and celebrations were decided to be launched and are now known what we call it now as Oktoberfest.
In 1910, i.e. at the 100th anniversary of the Oktoberfest, around 120,000 liters of beer was consumed. In 1919, the largest pavilion of that time named ‘Braürosl’ was found which had a capacity of holding almost 12,000 people at a time. Oktoberfest was put on a hold on a temporary basis during the World War I [1914-1918].
After the war, in 1919 and 1920, the Oktoberfest was replaced ‘kleineres Herbstfest’ that means a smaller autumn celebration. And in 1923 and 1924 the celebrations were stopped due to heavy rate of inflation.
In 1935, the Oktoberfest’s 125th anniversary was celebrated in a very huge special way. A big parade was arranged which was most vital of all the events held that time. While Hitler had extended Austria in 1938 and had won Sudetenland through the Munich Agreement, the Oktoberfest was renamed as ‘Groβdeutsches Volksfest’, meaning German Empire folk festival.
During World War II, again the Oktoberfest had to be stopped for a long time. It was from 1939 to 1945 that the war was going on. After the war was over, only the Autumn Fest was celebrated in Munich from 1946 to 1948.
As the Oktoberfest beer was a bit stronger than the normal one, it was not allowed to be distributed among the people attending the celebrations this time. Since its introduction, the Oktoberfest has not been celebrated for 24 years.
Since 1950 the opening ceremony of the festival has observed the same tradition in which a twelve-gun salute as well as knocking the first barrel of beer at exactly 12:00 pm by an official takes place. Then the Mayor of Munich declares in an Austro-Bavarian accent, the knocking of barrel by saying “O’zapft is!” (“It’s knocked”).
He then offers the very first liter of beer to the Bavarian’s Minister-President. Mr. Thomas Wimmer was the first ever Mayor to knock the beer barrel.
Prior to the official beginning of the Oktoberfest every year, parades take place wherein a club of marksmen, beer-tent waitresses and landlords take part. Two different type of parades are held on this day, and both terminate at the same place i.e., at the Theresienwiese. These parades usually commence somewhere between 9:50-10:50 am.
The traditional outfits of the Bavarian people consist of a Bavarian hat called ‘Tirolerhüte’ on which is place a chamois hair feather (Gamsbart). The one, who has the most chamois hair feathers in his/her hat, was considered to be the richest of all.
With the emergence of modern technology, the use of original chamois hair feathers has faded, as now the imitations of the same feather are available.
What is Oktoberfest