It is all very confusing for people who do not understand the story of Oktoberfest. We have an October festival in September. Are we confused? Drunk? Little of both? Maybe, but that isn’t the point. The festival is more than just a bunch of people sitting around drinking. There is history that you should know so you can impress people sitting at the beer table with you.
First let’s clarify something – Germany calls it Oktober. If you speak English it is October. Same word, different spelling.
On another note, Germany does not call itself that either. It’s Deutschland, but I digress.
So take yourself back in time to October the 12th 1810. Then Prince Ludwig was being married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen (or Therese of Bavaria to be easier to remember).
Their wedding was the very first Oktoberfest.
The reception was in the fields of Bavaria renamed Theresienwiese (“Therese’s Fields”) to honor the Crown Princess. Everyone was invited to celebrate the occasion – “Wiesn”. It is still held in these original fields (although more of a fairground than a field now) and as tradition remains, free and open to all people.
The Confusion of Dates
There isn’t really any confusion once you understand. Germany can get really cold come mid-October. So rather than starting Oktoberfest on Oct 12, it gradually started moving back to September. The tradition now is that it is two full weeks (16 days total) where the last weekend is the first weekend of October or October 3 (whichever is later).
Back in the day, beers were stored in March and not processed during the hot summers. So, the beers that are opened during Oktoberfest are referenced as March Beer – or Marzen or Marzenbier. This beer is traditionally stronger than an average beer (6%) and is richer and fuller.
You can get Oktoberfest shipped out to other parts of the world, but only Oktoberfest beer (Marzen) is sold at the fairgrounds. Well that and some wines, but I digress again.
So, now that you have some basic history, you can enjoy your LITER of beer and know that you are carrying on a tradition from 1810.