Yes, folks, it’s officially that time of year. Oktoberfest is in full swing and ends on Sunday.
Now, I’m not a beer drinker, but I would love to go over to Bavaria and experience this festival at least once. Until then, I’ll write about it.
Going on with the theme from last week’s post, here are some weird and wonderful facts about Oktoberfest.
If you didn’t read my post last week, you’re probably confused right now. It’s called ‘October’-fest, and isn’t this September? Well…
1. Oktoberfest Started as a Wedding Celebration
Crown prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The festival was initially just a celebration for the big royal wedding and went on to be an excuse to celebrate each year on the anniversary. Somewhere along the line, the festival was moved to September, when the days are longer in this part of the world, and ends on the first Sunday of October. You can read the whole story here.
2. The Locals Call it Wiesn
This is because the area where the festival is held, is called Theresienwiese – Therese’s field – in honour of the princess. Wiesn is an abbreviation of the place-name.
3. Only Six Kinds of Beer are Served
The rule is that only Bavarian beer, brewed to meet the Reinheitsgebot, can be served at Oktoberfest. The Reinheitsgebot – purity order – is basically a list of regulations on beer brewing.
The six breweries you’ll find at Oktoberfest are:
4. The Festival has been Cancelled 24 Times
In times of war and disease, Oktoberfest was not held. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to drink and party when their neighbours are dying of cholera or when you’re being bombed by the Allies, for example.
5. Other Activities
As with any German festival (and there are a lot of festivals), you can expect an abundance of food stalls at Oktoberfest. You’ll also find live shows and music, amusement rides, vendors and activities like archery.
Then, there’s also a mass held on the first Thursday of each Oktoberfest in the hippodrome tent. Church and getting out-of-your-mind-drunk at the same festival? Well, apparently so.
Don’t be surprised to find whole families in attendance either. Kids are allowed and there’s a whole lot going on to entertain them while the grown up’s drink. Since the legal drinking age in Germany is 16, 14 if you’re accompanied by a parent or guardian, I bet Friederich is having a cold one in the same tent as Dad anyway.
6. They Mayor Starts the Beer Drinking
In fact, until he’s cracked open the first barrel and says ‘O’zapft is!’ – it’s tapped! – nobody can drink a drop of beer. This has been the rule since 1950.
7. The Beer is as Strong as the Force
With an alcohol level of typically around 6%, Oktoberfest beer is stronger than the average padawan. People get super drunk, super fast. Pair that with dehydration, you can imagine why there’s need for a Red Cross tent (which is usually bursting at the seams).
Those unfortunate souls who pass out from *ahem* excessive consumption, are called Bierleichen – beer corpses. You can imagine how many must be passing out, considering the amount of beer sold. No?
2015 saw 7.3 million litres of beer served, if that paints a clearer picture.
8. Paris Hilton is Permanently Banned from the Festival
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I could’ve added some more facts above; like that Albert Einstein was part of an Oktoberfest construction team once, waiters must be able to fill a Maß in an average of 1 and a half seconds, and Oktoberfest has its own post office – which will give you a special Oktoberfest stamp – but these facts are especially for those of you who read the post to the end.