The OktoberfestEnlarge image (© picture-alliance/ dpa)
The “Münchner Oktoberfest”, or as the local Bavarians refer to it, “Die Wiesn” is the single biggest and most prestigious fair in the world that takes place in Munich. However, it is also one the most traditional fairs in the world and gives the visitor a good insight on the mixture between 21st century modern Germany and ancient Bavarian culture and customs. Probably the best resemblance for that, are the “Dirndls” (traditional dress) and the “Lederhosn” (leather shorts). They are age-old traditional clothes worn by old Oktoberfest veterans as well as by teenagers. These clothes are deeply rooted in the Bavarian culture and also stand for a certain way of life which is unique in the entire world. Nevertheless, this is a good example where one can see the merging of past and present Germany. While the guys’ “Lederhosen” stayed pretty much the same over the centuries, the ‘Dirndls’ have undergone some tremendous changes. Some still prefer the traditional, longer version; however, most of young German females squeeze themselves into quite tantalizing dresses to impress the opposite sex.
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance / dpa)
History of the Oktoberfest
The “Wiesn” did not use to be the only “Oktoberfest” in Bavaria. In medieval Germany, these festivities were intended to deplete the stored “Märzenbier” before the beginning of the new brewing season.
The “Münchner Oktoberfest”, however, has its very own peculiarities and can look back on an almost 200 year long history.
On October 17th in 1810 it was held for the first time as a wedding celebration for crown prince Ludwig and princess Therese of Bavaria. It took place on a meadow just outside the Munich city walls. That’s why, still today, the local residents refer to it as the “Wiesn”.
Shortly after, the royals decided to repeat the celebration in the following year, because the people of Munich had enjoyed it in such a great way. This marks the natal hour of the annual celebration of the wedding.
In its early years the Oktoberfest had a rather sportive character. There were mainly horse races and it was supposed to resemble the antique Greek Olympics. Enlarge image The real thread: too much booze (© dpa / picture alliance )
In 1880, however, the city administration gave permission to serve beer at the fair and from there on the Oktoberfest developed its unique atmosphere for which it is so famous today. Its timeframe was also prolonged and the fair was placed at the end of September, due to the much nicer weather at that time of the year.
Since then only the last weekend of the fair falls into October.
Today there are 14 big and 15 small beer tents to sit over 100.000 people at a time. But there are also other activities for the well over 6 million visitors, who come to the Wiesn every year. There are some of the world’s most famous roller coasters and a lot of other spectacles for young and old.
Munich’s mayor traditionally opens the fair on the first Saturday exactly at noon, by tapping the first barrel and then, while handing out the first beer to Bavaria’s prime minister, shouting out loud ‘O’zapft is!’ (‘It's tapped!).Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/ dpa)