Oktoberfest Traditions And Useful Tips For Newcomers
Oktoberfest has become very popular in the United States. Festivals large and small have been celebrating the German tradition for many years, and most of these have taken on lives of their own. With parades, food, music, dancing and original events that can't be found anywhere else in the world, the authentic festival in Munich is a spectacle to be remembered by anyone lucky enough to make the trip. However, the percentage of Americans with German ancestry is huge, with many major cities founded by German settlers and populated by German immigrants over the course of our nation's history. Needless to say, you don't have to fly across the Atlantic to experience an authentic Oktoberfest. Learn about the original event, traditions and get the tips you need to walk the grounds like an expert with these Oktoberfest facts, figures and advice.
Oktoberfest in Munich has become one of the largest festivals in the world, attracting the locals as well as visitors from around the globe. Although it's commonly known around the world as a beer drinking festival, beer is just one of the traditions that makes Oktoberfest special, and isn't the main reason behind its invention. The first festival was actually a royal wedding. In October of 1810, the prince later to be crowned King Ludwig I married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. To celebrate, the entire city of Munich was invited to a festival that included parades and horse races. The festival was repeated the following year. It continued to expand into what it is today.
The festival celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2010. Oktoberfest has changed quite a bit during that time, transforming into a modern day fairground with state-of-the-art fun rides and games. However, part of the unique nature of the festival, and the reason for its worldwide imitation, is its focus on celebrating and preserving the unique look and feel of its nineteenth-century roots. Traditional German clothing such as lederhosen, Bavarian hats and dirndl dresses are worn with the same joy and comfort as holiday socks on Christmas morning. And beginning in 2005, "quiet Oktoberfest" guaranteed bands play only traditional folk music during certain hours to preserve some of the age-old traditions and make venues friendlier to families and elderly attendees.
The giant festival in Munich attracted nearly six million guests from around the world in 2015. Described as a relatively easy-going festival in 2015, it was estimated that 7.7 million liters of beer were consumed in the 16-day schedule. The quality and requirements of the beer at the festival is taken seriously. Only a handful of breweries are selected to produce the many liters of beer. Among the strict requirements are that breweries must adhere to German Beer Purity Laws that date back to the 16th century and specify appropriate ingredients. In addition, all beer at the festival must be brewed in Munich. Only breweries meeting these standards get the honor of designating their brews as Oktoberfest Beer.
For the most part, Oktoberfest in America is typically an excuse to drink beer and eat food. It's not unusual to see traditional German beer steins, lederhosen and dirndls, but there's a divide when it comes to recreating the authentic feel of Munich's festival. However, while many cities aren't concerned with details like strict brewery requirements and traditional folk songs, there are several American festivals with deep German ties that make a better attempt than most to highlight German traditions. Some, like Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, have been around for decades, developing their own wacky traditions as well as those that honor German-American heritage.
No matter where you celebrate Oktoberfest, one tradition you have to try out is folk singing. Unless you know the language, singing along in Munich will be tricky, especially with a freshly emptied stein. As far as drinking goes, many Oktoberfest beers, especially in cities with a good micro-brewing community, might be serving specialty brews with a higher alcohol content, so keep an eye on how much you consume throughout the night. Don't worry, if you consume a little too much, traditional German food is basically designed to complement such a decision. And dirndl wearers beware: tying your bow on your left side indicates you're single. Tying the bow on the right is a way of saying you're in a relationship.
Oktoberfest in all shapes and styles promises old fashion fun, modern day amusement and the expected fill of great food and drink. If there's no Oktoberfest in your area, consider creating a festival of your own. LTD Commodities has the housewares, dining gear and decorations to fit any party, as well as blackout curtains for making that next morning a bit easier on your head.