Friday, October 1, 2010

What is the History Behind... Oktoberfest!!!

When we think of Oktoberfest we consider it to be this grand celebration of all that is German beer and brewing. This year they celebrate its 200th Anniversary but you'd be interested to know that the event did not start at involving beer at all. 

The original event took place October 12, 1810 and was a public commemoration of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig (eventually becoming King Ludwig I) and his bride Princess Therese (today the grounds which hold Oktoberfest are named Theresienwiese which means field or meadow of Therese). The royal family organized a horse race to celebrate their wedding and bring the people of the Bavaria together. The people enjoyed the festivities so much they made the decision to renew the event the following year. That year the people decided to add an agricultural show to help boost the Bavarian agriculture. The agricultural aspect is still apart of the event however only done every third year. In addition the horse show remained a staple element of Oktoberfest all the up until 1960. The evolution of the event continues even to this day with different traditions coming and going throughout the last 200 years. One of the key traditions is the parade which came about first in 1835 and had been done every year since 1850. The parade is meant to honor the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria. Nearly 8,000 Bavarians take part in the parade, dressing in traditional costume and walk through the streets of Munich to the Oktoberfest celebration. Near the end of the nineteenth century a complete change occurred giving us more of what we see as Oktoberfest today. Originally there were booths everywhere involving games, dance floors, drinking, and much more. In order to allow more room for people to move around they built the beer halls that can be seen today. 

Various years Oktoberfest was cancelled, either because of war or pandemic. However despite various small set backs, Oktoberfest has lived on and become much more then just a Munich event. Similar to how on Saint Patrick's Day everyone drinks and celebrates everything that is Irish, people from around the world celebrate Oktoberfest and everything that is German. One of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Munich is found in Cincinnati, Ohio called Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati. So large the event is that the mayor of Munich annually decrees the celebrations as the largest outside their own.

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