Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The 175th Oktoberfest

Just 3 more sleeps till this year's Oktoberfest kicks off on Saturday 20 September.
It is the 175th Oktoberfest and will be going on until Sunday 05 October.
We go down south tomorrow!

And This Is How It All Started...
The notion of a beer fest in October probably started out decidedly informal, sometime in the late Middle Ages. In those days, Bavarian brewers did not brew during the hot days of summer. They made the summer beers in late March and finished brewing on 23 April (St Georges Day) and started brewing again on 29 September (St Michaels Day) when the cool days of winter returned, at which point they had to consume any left-over summer beer quickly to empty the valuable cooperage for the new season’s fresh beers. So the original Oktoberfest was probably a casual activity for the purpose of disposing of any left-over beer that had made it through the summer.
They called the beer Märzen (March) beer which is also now known as Oktoberfestbier!

The Oktoberfest as a formal, organized affair took place for the first time on October 12, 1810. On that day the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. To allow the commoners to partake in the ceremonies, the noble couple decided to organize a wedding party for its subjects on some grazing land outside the Munich city gates—and some 40,000 happy Bavarians showed up for the fun. That meadow, incidentally, was then given its current name of Theresienwiese (Theresa's meadow), in honour of the Crown Princess—and to this day this meadow is still the site of the annual extravaganza. Strangely, the most popular attraction at the first Munich Oktoberfest in 1810 was horse racing and not beer because there wasn't any! Even though there was a lack of beer the fest was such a success that Ludwig decided to repeat the whole show on the anniversary of his wedding and in subsequent years with beer of course.
Already in 1814, the German poet Achim von Arnim reported that the festivities featured an ample array of beer shacks where the people could get their brew in half-litre, tin-lidded steins. Eventually, horse racing was dropped from the program, but—foreshadowing a trend—more and more beer stands were added to keep the crowds in high spirits, and the festivities were extended to several days.
In 1896, the first beer tents appeared. So forward wind to 2008 and it has become probably the become the biggest party in the world.

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