Oktoberfest, the world’s largest fun-fair just kicked off in Munich yesterday, and is set to go on for another 16 days, till the first weekend in October. Gallons of beer, a carnival like setting, merry Germans (and others), traditional music, dancing and pretty women are what make 6 million people visit this event annually. As Oktoberfest #181 kicks off, and gathers momentum, here’s all you need to know about it.
Featured image: Uwishunu.com
WHAT IS OKTOBERFEST?
Oktoberfest. It is the world’s largest fun fair, and locally goes by the name of Wiesn (It takes after the grounds where it is held)
What was originally a wedding celebration has now become a ritual to celebrate Bavaria.
It all started in 1810 with the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The event invited all people of Bavaria to come and celebrate and even promote German agriculture and lifestyle on the public grounds that are named “Therese’s Meadows”, though all that is history, the modern rendition of the festival has become the way it is since the 1950s.
Oktoberfest has been fairly consistent too, the only times it didn’t happen was during the two World Wars, and at times because of a cholera outbreak. It opens with a 12 gun salute and after the Mayor of Munich taps the first beer barrel, it is a matter the mayor takes up on his ego, limiting the number of blows to open the barrel. The festival rakes in 1.1 billion Euros a year, and is the most identified symbol of German tourism.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT OKTOBERFEST
- Beer here is served in huge mugs called Maß (Pronounced Masz) which equals 1.76 UK Pints. (That’s 1 liter of beer in a mug)
- Waiters carry beer in huge amounts, with little or no spillage, they can easily carry up to 27 beer mugs with them.
- Beer can lead to all sorts of weird behavior from people, the worst of them is public urination, which leads to a Euro 100 fine.
- People who get wasted, thanks to so much beer are called Bierleichen (Beer-corpses), there’s easily around 10,000 of them every year, who make the trip to German Red Cross’ hangover beds to sleep and get a spare set of trousers to avoid humiliation on the way back home!
- It is a tradition to dress in typical German clothing, the lederhosen (for men) and dirndl (for women) who take part in the Oktoberfest parade on the first Sunday of the festival.
- Oktoberfest employs 12,000 people annually, the festival has been of prime importance to Munich since it is so profitable.
- All the beer found at Oktoberfest, is Bavarian. It is sourced from the 6 official breweries in Munich.
WHAT GOES ON AT OKTOBERFEST?
Stereotypically, the carnival is about beer more than anything else, but it would be a shame to say that’s all it is limited to. The festival is a celebration of people and their culture, it is typically Bavarian and lets people do things that have been customary since olden days.
There’s small, big, and large tents here and each serves beer, but each one is unique in it’s own right too. The parties with loud music and pop-music start at 6 in the evening, something the youth think should be an all day affair, but other than that there’s the traditional Chicken dance (YES! It is of German origin), crossbow shooting competitions, barrel racing and what-not. A rather funny way to describe it would be drunken organised chaos.
Oktoberfest is a ritual in itself, no doubt, but people come here to do other things too. The famous iced gingerbread cookies which lovers share are typical of Oktoberfest celebrations. Other than cookies, there’s Wursts (Pork sausages) and Pretzels on offer too. Since it is a carnival, it also has roller coasters and rides that bring out the kid in everyone!
Given the chaotic environment brimming with alcohol, it might not be considered wise to get kids here, but that doesn’t stop a lot of kids from coming to Oktoberfest, and as hilarious as it may be, the parents are the ones that unleash their inner animal while the kids watch. The reversal of roles has been negative at times, when parents are finally sober and in their senses, they find their kids are missing.
That’s pretty much all you will come to know by reading up on the festival, the next level is experiencing Oktoberfest, and while you may have missed out this time, you can always go next year, come back with wonderful experiences to share, and of course, a beer belly.
HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD GO.
If you like beer, beautiful German women in their traditional Dirndls, men who slap their thighs imitating old court rituals, experiencing new things, singing, dancing, and sampling local food, and if you’re genuinely fascinated by German culture, this is the place to go.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GO.
If you have an aversion to noise, people under the influence, and if you can’t tolerate people wetting their pants in public (altogether involuntarily) you should avoid visiting.