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A website of the Bavarian lifestyle, recipes and traditions.
Why is it called Octoberfest if it starts in SEPTEMBER? I get this question alot.
The Octoberfest originated on October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (later to become King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
The citizens of Munich were invited to join the festivities held on the fields in
front of the city gates. The fields were named Theresienwiese ("Therese's
meadow") in honor of the Crown Princess. Nowadays the Octoberfest is
referred to as "die Wiesn", short for Theresienwiese.
In the beginning the festivities lasted for 3 days and horse races were arranged
to mark the close of the event. The decision to repeat the horse races in the
subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Octoberfest. The festival
was eventually prolonged and moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the fest runs for 16 days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. However, if day 16 falls before October 3 (German Unity Day), then the festival will continue until the 3rd.
Over the past 200 years, the Octoberfest was only canceled 24 times due to cholera epidemics and war. Now it is the world's largest Volksfest (people's fair) with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. O'Zapft is!
Special Octoberfest beer is brewed for the occasion. Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), at a minimum of approximately 6% alcohol may be served at Octoberfest. The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich. The breweries that can produce Octoberfest beer under the criteria are:
1.8 million gallons of beer are consumed by the 6 million visitors every year. Many people overestimate their ability to handle large amounts of alcohol, especially the Octoberfest beer, which has a higher content of alcohol and sugar, and pass out due to drunkenness. These drunk patrons are often called "Bierleichen" ('beer corpses'). Each year over 4,000 items end up in the Octoberfest lost and found; items which include umbrellas, wallets, glasses and ... dentures.
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