Every year as we near September, there’s one festival that we all can’t help and look forward to – The Oktoberfest. This famous festival lasting a total of about 16 to 18 days is the highlight in many parts of the world where it is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and vigor in places such as Germany, Munich & Bavaria etc.. A significant part of the Bavarian culture, the world now celebrates this Beer fest in a manner that is typically a re-modeled version of the original held in Munich.
Called “Wiesn” by the locals, not many are aware of Oktoberfest’s historic significance. The first ever Oktoberfest was held in the year 1810! Yes, that’s right. It’s not as recent as one might think. It all began with the wedding of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The celebration was grand as the whole of Munich was invited to the royal wedding. The wedding took place in the fields in front of the city gate, which since then have been re-named “Thereseinwiese”, translating to “Teresa’s Meadow”. The ceremony came to an end with a horse race and royal feast for the whole of Bavaria.
The celebration was so memorable, that the royal family decided to repeat the horse races every year.
In 1811, a show was added as well to promote Bavarian agriculture. Though the event was cancelled for a few years due to Bavarian involvement in Napoleonic wars, tree climbing, bowling, swings and other attractions were added to the race events and by 1819, Oktoberfest became an annual event.
As the years went by, Oktoberfest went through many transitions. Wine tastings turned into brewery participations. By 1910, an estimated 120,000 liters of beer were consumed and breweries made especially strong beer during Oktoberfest (stronger in alcohol content). During the years 1939 – 1945 Oktoberfest was not celebrated due to World War II. 1946 to 1949 Oktoberfest was celebrated as only ‘Autumn fest’ but by 1950, the festivities of Oktoberfest had been resumed.
Oktoberfest through the ages has now become a space for celebration and revelry. It’s where people come to socialize, try new beers and ales; pig out on famous dishes such as the ‘Bratwurst’ (Sausage) etc.
Though around the world, other countries apart from Germany have started celebrating Oktoberfest, the official beer for Oktoberfest is one which is certified by meeting certain criteria and conforming to the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ (the German beer purity law’ and brewed within the city limits of Munich. The few breweries which produce Oktoberfest beer are – Augustiner-Brau, Hacker-Pschorr-Brau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, Spatenbrau and Staatliches Hofbrau-Munchen. These breweries form the Club of Munich Brewers and Oktberfest Beer is their trademark.
Every year this has been a celebration to maybe drink copious amounts of beer and make merry but, we hope that this little history lesson about the Oktoberfest and been an interesting read for you guys. Wish you all a great Oktoberfest.
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