What will you get, if you try to put a word “Oktoberfest” into Google? You will find a quantum of photos – mostly many beautiful women in traditional Bavarian costume called “Dirndl“, crowded festival tents and millions of one-liter glasses of beer. But the celebration of Oktoberfest in Munich is not only a festival of beer! First of all, it is a great feast of Bavarian history, traditions, costumes, music and, of course, beer.
Celebrating October in September?
Why do German people (and nowadays European inhabitants) actually celebrate these days? And even more – why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September? Well, everything started in the year 1810. The Bavarian prince Ludwig and his bride, Theresia from Saxony, announced their date of wedding. There was a great feast related to this future marriage, and the common people also wanted to experience it. That is why they organised a great 2-week “wedding party“, at the turn of September and October linked with everything Bavarian – beer, food, music, costumes and traditions.
Not only Bavarians, but also Salzburger and people from other parts of Germany and Austria were invited to Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Especially for this event, a great meadow – Theresienwiese – named after the noble bride – had been selected. It used to be a periphery of Munich in the past but today it is situated directly in the city.
The beginning of this celebration looks as if the time went back! All the people living in Munich wear special Bavarian costumes – men are in leather trousers called “Lederhose“ and no Munich girl goes out without “Dirndl“ – a corset which underlines their beauty. Even an EMO girl with several piercings, who I met in the underground, was wearing this beautiful costume! My friend Martha who is almost 80 years old said: “I am really very old, but me and my husband just MUST go to town to see the ceremonial processions. We are Munichans and it behoves us!“
As in the old days…
There are two ceremonial processions that open the festival of Oktoberfest. The first („the small“) is held on the first Saturday of the two-week-long celebration. All the people who will be working and serving in the festive tents, directly on the Theresienwiese, are on the carts. These carts are being dragged by tens of beautifully ornate horses and accompanied by thousands of musicians. At midday sharp, the mayor of Munich solemnly broaches the first barrel of beer and the Oktoberfest can start!
The second ceremonial procession is held on Sunday and is called “Trachteneinzug“ – in this you can see all the traditional costumes from Bavarian region and all the near German and Austrian regions. Also the musicians, horses, the bride and the groom are not missing! And something special is there, too. One remarkable character of both processions is called “Oktoberfest Kindl“- a young Munichan girl dressed in yellow-black costume who goes near to one of six Munichan breweries. Her role is to represent the festival or be a kind of mascot. So many people watch these two processions: Munichans, tourists, radio and TV reporters, children and old people…A half of Munich must be closed for traffic and people are trying to find a piece of place, where they could admire the beauty of German traditions. It doesn´t matter, if you stand on a lamp post or sit on some window sill.
Surprising meadow “Wiesn“
If you would like to get to the meadow (called Wiesn), the best way is to use an underground. It can be pretty crowded during the first weekend of Octoberfest, but stay calm – there are a lot of security workers, who keep an eye out for the visitors’ safety. When you go out from the underground station, you will definitely get a bit surprised. There are so many lights: merry-go-rounds and carousels, giant beer tents, kiosks with souvenirs, hats and traditional gingerbread-hearts on the Theresienwiese.
But if you would like to get something to eat or drink, visit one of the tents. Be careful which kind of tent you choose: if you like pork, choose a tent with a huge moving statue of a pig above. In another tent they bake poultry, once again in another beef, fish or even cocks! You don´t mind what kind of food will you eat? Than choose a tent, which decoration you like the most! Garlands made of hops, wooden clouds or colorful stripes… And if you ask for beer, you will not get less than one liter. It costs around 9 €, so mind your eye not to drink or spend too much.
In the festive tent
After entering the tent it is like getting a caffeine shock! From outside you hear no noise, but inside, there is an unbelievable party going on! Loud music, happy people drinking, eating and singing. Tens of waiters are carrying trays as big as a small table and the band try hard to make a good atmosphere. And they are successful: the most popular song is definitely “Viva Colonia” by the German interpret Hoehner – when the people hear that, everyone stands on the benches and dances! The most often you can hear a short song “Ein Prosit!“. If you hear that, please, stop dancing, raise your glass, say “cheers” and drink!
Take a stroll around the Theresienwiese and you will see more interesting phenomena. For example, several visitors who have drunk too much and are getting better on a nearby knoll. Or an incredibly long queue for a toilet. Or a couple of people who simply ignore these queues and make their own toilet in bush nearby…
On Sunday evening the “Wiesn“ is not so hopelessly crowded; people go home as they have to work next day. And what about Monday morning? You cannot find any mark that there is some beer feast in Munich. The city looks ordinary again: children go to school, young as well as elderly ladies and gentlemen who were wearing a “Dirndl“ and “Lederhose“ the day before wear business clothes again.
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