Wednesday, September 30, 2009

O'zapft is!--Not For Much Longer

"It's Tapped!" was screamed enthusiastically by the mayor of Munich on September 19th, and the drinking began. Now in it's final week, Oktoberfest is as popular today as it was when it first began.

The first official Oktoberfest was actually a celebration to commemorate the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen back in 1810. Since then, the festival has grown each year and become a national tradition for Germany, as well as other countries around the world who have created their own Oktoberfests. Now millions flock to Munich every year, dressed head to toe in Sennerhut, Lederhosen, and Dirndl. They crowd the beer halls and stuff their faces with Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Haxn (knuckle of pork), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Wurstel (sauseges), Brezeln (pretzel), Sauerkraut, and various other Bavarian delicacies.

But the most popular aspect of Oktoberfest is--of course--the steins of beer clinking together over the long,wooden tables. These steins have been a tradition at Oktoberfest since before the 1900s, and I think they will remain a staple for many more years to come.

While Oktoberfest is known for being a wild drunkfest, it is about much more than drinking. It is a time when people from all over Germany and the world can come together for one big party. Differences are put aside, problems are washed down with each sip of beer, laughter and music can be heard throughout the streets. It is truly a chance to broaden your horizons and step outside your comfort zone.
I have never had the opportunity to visit Munich, but if I ever do, I hope it is during Oktoberfest. I would love to sit at those long tables with a stein in one hand and a large Brezeln in the other enjoying the company of strangers. Next year marks the 200 year anniversary of the festival--who knows, maybe I'll gete the chance to stop on by for the big event.

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