Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oktoberfest! It's that time of year, and our thoughts turn to lifting a good German brew and munching a large salty pretzel! Prost!
I was listening to some streaming German polka music this morning on tv, and I caught sight of a side bar that mentioned that the first Oktoberfest celebration was in 1810. And, the history is interesting.
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become king Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen on October 12, 1810. All of Munich was invited to attend the festivities on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were named after Therese, called Theresa's Meadow, and the citizens having had a wonderful time, decided to commemorate the event each year. Horse races were added (a tradition that lasted to 1960). In 1811, an agricultural show was added to promote Bavarian farmers. In 1816 carnival booths appeared, with prizes given out. In 1819 Munich's founding citizens took over the fest, making it officially an annual event. The first festivals saw an attendance of around 40,000; today it is an occasion celebrated world-wide.
It now starts in late September in Germany because of the better weather, but always flows into October. Cancelled 24 times due to cholera epidemics and war, it still endures, and for whoever attends, it makes everyone want to be German for at least a day!
Zum Wohl! (Cheers!)

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