We all know of Oktoberfest. We all aspire to go someday. We might even go to wannabe Oktoberfests in our small hometowns (in all fairness though, my hometown rocks Oktoberfest for a full month). So how did this beloved tradition of drinking large quantities of beer begin? Spoiler alert: it didn’t start at a college frat.
It started as a wedding celebration! When Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen (say that five times fast) on 12 October 1810, all of Munich was invited to celebrate (see also: drink heavily) on the fields in front of the city gates. Horse races, agricultural shows, and fun fairs were all part of the initial Oktoberfest celebrations. In 1819, citizens of Munich decided that Oktoberfest was so awesome that it should be an annual event. So, it was changed to begin at the end of September, to take advantage of warmer temperatures and longer days (for more drinking time, obviously).
- It’s the largest festival in the world
- 15% of people are visitors from different countries
- There are 14 large tents and 20 small tents at Oktoberfest
- Over 203 years, it’s only been cancelled 24 times (thanks cholera and war!)
- What side women tie the bow on their dirndl says their relationship status. Left is single. Right is taken.
- All beers come from 6 breweries: Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner-Bräu, Spatenbräu and Staatliches Hofbräu-München
- The chicken dance is an Oktoberfest tradition (they call it Der Ententanz)
- Soft pretzels, pork knuckles, whitefish on a stick, and bratwurst are traditional foods for Oktoberfest
- Beer is also considered a food in Bavaria (BRB, going back to Bavaria to start one of those trendy liquid diets)
Next time you’re doing the chicken dance at a wedding, remind yourself that it would be much cooler if you were doing it in Germany and book a ticket to go to Oktoberfest.