October is almost upon us … and with that, brings Oktoberfest! On September 20th, you hear it again in the typical Bavarian dialect: „O’zapft is!“ – “Es ist angezapft” (“It’s tapped!”), when the first barrel of beer is tapped. This starts off the Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich every year.
Originally started in 1810, Oktoberfest has grown from generally being a German festival, to one that spans across the world. The original festival, held in the Theresienwiese (Therese’s field, or meadow) near Munich, has a variety of food, carnival games – and of course, beer.
Common Foods at the Oktoberfest Munich
If you visit the festivities for the 1st time, better get yourself prepared with some typical Bavarian vocabulary to order foods. Common foods enjoyed at Oktoberfest are for example:
- Hendl (roast chicken),
- Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock),
- Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)
- Wurstl (sausages)
- Obatzda (cheese spread made of Camembert, onions and herbs)
- Brezn (pretzel, made of butter, wheat flour, yeast, salt, sodium bicarbonate and water)
According to Wikipedia, during 2007, the Oktoberfest in Munich served almost seven million liters of beer! That’s over 14 million pints – or close to three Olympic swimming pools full!
How it all did start
Where did Munich Oktoberfest originally stem from? Essentially, a wedding reception! In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen—all of the Munich citizens were invited to celebrate along with the Royal Family, in front of the city gates. That field, now called Theresienwiese, is where Oktoberfest is held.
Oktoberfest festivals occur everywhere from Argentina and Australia to Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The largest festival outside of Germany is the one held in Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where there are between 750,000 and one million visitors. Next up by attendees is Blumenau, Brazil, with over 700,000, then Cincinnati, Ohio, with over 500,000, and then Denver, Colorado, with 450,000.
These “out-of-country” festivals were started by German immigrants and their decedents, eventually taken up by anyone with a love for the German culture and its food.
Some fun facts about Oktoberfest
- The mug your beer is in? While it may make a great souvenir, it actually belongs to the proprietor – and you can be charged for theft if found with one!
- Oktoberfest starts in late September, even though the name has “October” in it.
- “It’s 4 o’clock somewhere” doesn’t pertain here … you can only start drinking your Oktoberfest beer until 12 p.m., and when the mayor says so.
- Nearly 1,000 tons of rubbish result annually from the Oktoberfest!