Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Oktoberfest in September?
While Oktoberfest has become a celebration of the last harvest before summer and the time to consume lots of beer, the original Oktoberfest took place in October of 1820 to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The couple invited the whole city, provided three days of free food and beer and ended the festivities with a horse race.
The event was so popular it became an annual celebration for the town. As the festival grew, the dates were moved into September because the days were longer and warmer, which meant more time for people to spend outdoors drinking their favorite beers and chowing down on Bavarian pretzels. To keep with the tradition of the original dates, the holiday does always end on the first Sunday of October.
Beer and Traditions
Oktoberfest is the beer served at the official Oktoberfest in Munich, but the style has changed over the years from a Dunkel to Marzen and finally to Festbier or Wiesen, which is a lighter style that is served today.
It’s not unusual to see servers carrying an impressive number of beer steins. In 2017 a German man carried 29 beer steins (154 lbs.) to break his own world record! Another popular tradition is to decorate gingerbread hearts to show affection and are often worn around the neck before being eaten.
German Words and Phrases
Noch ein Bier, bitte! – Another beer, please!
Dirndl – A ruffled apron dress
Wurst – German or Austrian sausage
Lederhosen – Knee-high leather shorts often with suspenders
Prost! – Cheers!
Spaetzle – Small dumplings consisting of seasoned dough poached in boiling water
O’zapft is’!* – It’s tapped!
*Yelled by the Mayor of Munich to signify the beer keg has been tapped and Okotberfest has begun.
Schnitzel – A thin slice of meat, coated in breadcrumbs and fried