Why is Oktoberfest Celebrated?

A group of friends celebrating Oktoberfest.
A group of friends celebrating Oktoberfest.

The Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world, and happens in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a beer festival that lasts for 16 to 18 days from the period between mid or late September lasting until the first weekend of October. Millions of people from different parts of the world attend the Oktoberfest annually. A large percentage of the people who attend the beer festival are from the Bavarian origin. The folk festival started in the Middle Ages, and its continued celebration is relevant to the Bavarian culture.

History of the Festival

The festival began on October 12, 1810, when King Ludwig 1 had invited Munich’s citizens to attend his wedding with Princess Therese. On October 17 of the same year, a horse race was held in front of the city gates in honor of the newlyweds. In October 1881, the repeat of the festival was meant to promote agriculture in Bavaria. The celebration continued in subsequent years except during the Napoleonic wars. A parade is done annually in honor of Prince Ludwig and Theresa of Saxe- Hildburghausen marriage. In 1887, the festival introduced restaurants and breweries. There was a suspension of Oktoberfest during World War I and World War II. Since its inauguration, there have been 24 cancellations of the festival. In 1980, there was a bomb scare that killed 13 people and injured over 201 people.

Celebratory Events

Since 1950, the festival has begun with a twelve-gun salute followed by the tapping of the first keg of the fest’s beer by the reigning Mayor of Munich who then gives a liter to the Minister-president of Bavaria State. Before the official start of the festival, landlords, marksmen’s clubs, and beer-tent waitresses hold traditional parades.These parades end at the Theresienwiese. During the Oktoberfest celebration, some locals like wearing Bavarian hats that contain chamois hair that is valued by the Bavarian people. There are tents at the events displaying traditional beer, agricultural expose, and beginning in the 1970s, the German gay organizations organizes gay days which take place in the Braurosl tent every first Sunday of the celebration. The Oktoberfest organizers only permit the sale of beer brewed within the city of Munich.

Oktoberfest Today

There was a development of “quiet Oktoberfest” in 2005 in the beer tents to accommodate families and the elderly people. The ban on electric music lasts until 6:00 pm and was put in place to maintain the traditional beer atmosphere and discourage party mentality. The Bavarian law prohibiting smoking in public places gave an exception to the Oktoberfest. In 2011, the smoking ban was enacted and all tents banned smoking. The 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest was in 2010 when the festival began with a horse race to commemorate the historic celebration. The number of visitors that attended the Oktoberfest in 2013 was 6.4 million people, and 6.7 million liters of beer was served.

Besides plenty of beer, visitors have a chance to enjoy games, amusement rides, and a wide range of traditional Bavarian foods such as the roast chicken and (Hendl) and grilled fish on a stick (Steckerlfish). All of these attractions have made the Oktoberfest the world’s largest Volksfest.


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