Oktoberfest has been embraced by the Filipinos since 1938, thanks to the efforts of the German Club Manila. Every October, lovers of beer gather for a grand overnight festivity with overflowing Bavarian beers and savouries, fun games, and performances. Eventually, the local celebrations of the famous German feast has evolved into larger celebrations like street parties and rock concerts.
But how did all these bier, prost!, and weisswurst come from? Why on the first day of the Oktoberfest, they tap the keg and shout O’zapft is? Here are seven things you should know about Oktoberfest:
Bavaria is not just a doughnut flavour but was an actual kingdom
Bavaria was a kingdom in Europe that existed until 1918 until Napoleon Bonaparte abolished the Holy Roman Empire and put countries around France under his power. Oktoberfest was actually a reception of the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig (later crowned King Ludwig I of Bavaria) and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen from Sachsen on October 12, 1810.
Beer is not as sinful as you think
There are many stories behind the origins of beer. Some people believe in the legend of King Gambrinus of Flanders and Brabant who not only first brewed it but also has an enormous capacity of drinking it. In Ancient Egyptian times, beer was used as an offering to the gods. Moreover, because beer brewing was originally done by women during the Medieval Ages, wearing black pointy hats and using large cauldrons, it was wrongly associated to witchcraft. But whatever the history of beer, Bavarians thank the Benedictine monks in Munich, Bavaria's then capital, for introducing to them what would be known as the standard Bavarian beer. Also, did you know that Munich is German for "place of monks"?
Oktoberfest celebrations do not mainly happen in October but in September
Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany start in September and lasts for about 16 to 19 days, including the first Sunday in October. However in the Philippines, many hotels and restaurants invite diners to their month-long promotions in October and grand festivities that fall on the weekend before or after the 12th of October.
It is the largest people's fair or volksfest in the world
You may have been to many fiestas in the world but there is nothing like Oktoberfest. Munich's streets get impossible to pass through with tables and chairs all lined up in every block. Approximately, there are six million people that annually attend the festivities around the world. Moreover, with nonstop flow of beer, beer maids and waiters must be able to carry ten beer-filled mugs at a time during service.
Celebrating Oktoberfest includes horse racing
Besides beer, Oktoberfest is also a time for Bavarian music, Bavarian traditional dresses like dirndls and lederhosen, beer games, delicious German sausages and breads, amusement rides, and yes, horse racing. In the tradition of the 15th-Century Scarlet Race at Karlstor, horse races were proposed by the National Guard to hold in honour of the newlywed royal couple on the 18th of October 1810.
Nobody can drink beer in the Oktoberfest until the first beer-barrel is tapped open by the Mayor of Munich
As tradition dictates, the Mayor of Munich has the only privilege to tap with a five-pound hammer the premier wooden barrel of beer during the opening day of Oktoberfest. At exactly 12 noon of the first day of the 16-day festivity, the Mayor of Munich opens the first barrel, shouts "O’zapft is" (which means "it's tapped"), and serves the first mug to the German Prime Minister. Afterwards, beer tents succeedingly open their service to the guests and the merriment officially begins.
"Prost!" means "cheers" so don't forget that when drinking with your buddies during (or even after) Oktoberfest. As former US President Thomas Jefferson once said, “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” Oktoberfest is not just a time to indulge in beer but also to be merry and enjoy the joy of life with dear friends, families, and loved ones.