Oktoberfest: 10 Fun Facts You Need to Know
[Practice your German: Click here to read this article in German] The Oktoberfest in Munich starts this weekend and it will last from the 19th September until October, 4. Here are 10 fun facts that I bet you'll be interested to know about the world's biggest folk festival.
1. What do we celebrate at the Oktoberfest...
...is not beer. The world's biggest beer festival originally started as a horse race, held as a part of the wedding celebration of the Bavarian Prince Ludwig and Theresie of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. Since then, people liked it so much that they kept celebrated it longer and longer. For the last 200 years, it's been canceled only 24 times (due to war or epedimies). Today, the Oktoberfest lasts over 2 weeks and starts in September in order to possibly avoid the bad weather in October when it might snow.
The land where it takes place is called Theresienwiesen (after the princess) and the locals call the Oktoberfest - "Die Wiesn".
2. The hairier, the wealthier.
Traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte).
In the past, wealthier people were recognized by the tufts of goat hair on their hats.
The hairier your hat was, the wealthier you were considered to be.
3. Beer is safer than water.
This is why people, started to drink rather beer. Back in the day, the water in Munich was not very clean, so in order to avoid it, people prefered to drink beer that was considered cleaner due to the brewery process.
4. The Oktoberfest beer is not regular beer.
It's brewed within the theritory of the city of Munich with at least 6% alcohol (which is 0.6 to 1.1% more alcohol and sugar than regular German beer).
One Maß (=1 Liter) equals 8 shots of Schnapps. As a result each year, 600-800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning. As alternative you can choose to go to the wine tend :-)
5. Einstein or ein Stein?
Although Einstein once worked as an electrician at the Oktoberfest, the name for a glass of beer (ein Stein) comes because originally they were made out of stone.
6. "Original" Souvenirs from India
Fans and Collectors can choose from a wide variety of shapes and sizes of the original beer bugs and glasses produced especially for the Oktoberfest each year.
Others prefer to dress traditionally with a sexy Dirndl (for women) and Lederhosen (for men). Although they've been produced in Germany, very often the goats from whose leather has been used for the Lederhosen comes usually from India or Pakistan.
7. Internationally German
Although the Oktoberfest is the world's biggest folk festival, 19% of its visitors (6 to 7 millions) are not Germans. Visitors love to send post cards and other souvenirs, that's why Deutsche Post build every year a post office stand especially for the ocasion. People from all over the world come to celebrate the Bavarian tradition or organize their local Oktoberfest - always an occasion to get together, drink some beer and eat a Weißwurst.
Foto: etsy.com by Daria Konik
8. How to tell if someone is a real Bavarian?
Your shoes tell who you are. Real Bavarians wear only the traditional "Haferlschuh" which fits perfectly the Lederhosen.
9. Many run away
Although the Oktoberfest is probably the most popular German event abroad, many Germans have never been to the Oktoberfest. Many Munich citizens also prefer to escape during the crazy 2 weeks. Round 27.000 people plan their vacation around this time of the year.
10. On the Waiting List for 20 Years
As a host, you have to officially apply for a permission to build a tend on the "Wiesn". That works only if some of the current hosts decide to go and the waiting period right now is 20 years, while building the tend itself might cost up to 2 million euros.
Plan to go to this year's Oktoberfest?
Read the full guide to the Oktoberfest here: http://www.oktoberfest-insider.com/oktoberfest-faq.htm
Celebrating Oktoberfest at Home?
Wanna learn some Oktoberfest vocabulary?
Watch the short video by Deutsche Welle: