Hallo meine Freunde!
I’ve been studying German for almost a year now. I have recently been learning about holidays and celebrations. Naturally, Oktoberfest had a major role in my studies. Though it is one of the most well-known and popular festivals around the world, when one thinks about Oktoberfest, the only thing that comes to mind is beer, beer and more beer. Therefore, I wanted to explore the history of this celebration and the cultural elements that make this festival so great.
Did you know Oktoberfest’s origin does not stem from beer or alcohol?
That’s right! Before 1818, beer was not even a staple of the festival like it is today. The largest beer festival in the world actually began as a wedding celebration in honor of the marriage between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. It took place on October 12, 1810 in Munich, Germany. The celebration was so great that the people of Munich decided to do it again the following year. And thus, Oktoberfest was born.
Wait, you’re not going to drink at Oktoberfest?!
Oktoberfest for the non-drinker
If you’re like me and you’re not much of a drinker, you may be thinking “why should I even go to Oktoberfest? There’s nothing to do but drink.”
Fear not, my friends! It may sound absurd, but even we can join in on all the fun!
In the early years of Oktoberfest, there were many other activities festival-goers could participate in, from horse races, agricultural shows, and dancing, to tree climbing, crossbow competitions, and freak shows.
Unfortunately, some of these events no longer take place. (Darn! Wonder how I’d fare in a crossbow competition?)
I have had limited experience with Oktoberfest. I’ve only attended one festival that was held in the US. Even so, I have learned a lot about the history and traditions of this celebration and of the German and Bavarian culture. One of my older sisters, my younger sister, and my nephew attended with me and we really enjoyed ourselves.
So, if you’re not up to consuming some of the 1.8 million gallons of beer available at Oktoberfest celebrations, (but if you are, that’s cool too!) here is a list of alternative activities:
- Sample various traditional foods, such as Bretzeln (pretzels), Weißwurst (white sausage), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut (pickled red cabbage), and many, many more.
- View musical performances
- Listen to the bands
- Visit the carnival game booths
- Caricature drawings
- Shop at the vendor booths for trinkets, art, decor, etc.
Though they may seem out of place, a lot of kids also attend the festival every year. Some activities appropriate for the younger crowd are:
- face painting
- balloon figures
- carnival rides
- Parades full of people dressed in traditional costumes
Celebrate Oktoberfest at Home!
Make your own Froebel Stern (German paper star) here.
Join friends and family in yodeling contests, alphorn making, beer barrel roll races and other fun games. (Instructions for each of these found here.)
Hope you have an awesome and fun-filled Oktoberfest!
“5 Reasons to Raise Your Steins to the History of Oktoberfest.” M2 PressWIRE.
(August 14,2015 Friday ): 354 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date
“8 Fun Facts about Munich’s Oktoberfest.” Fox News. 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 24 Sept.
Katz, Jon. “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Oktoberfest.” Food Republic. 26
Sept. Web. 24 Sept. 2015
“What Is Oktoberfest?” What Is Oktoberfest? Web. 24 Sept. 2015.