October is coming to an end and so is the world renowned Oktoberfest, a festival celebrated by millions of Germans and visitors alike. Sparking from a royal celebration of marriage in 1810, this festival is reproduced in countless cities around the beautiful, western European country.
Banners are colored with blue and white checkers, pretzel and beer images are plastered all over and the present is transformed back in time as people dress in traditional garments.
These festivals usually take place in large town squares and are outfitted with game booths, food stands and large tents, which are the main attraction. In the tents are large stages for live music, waitresses carrying at least 3 beers per hand and bench after bench for visitors to sit, drink and enjoy the cultural festivities. It is usually celebrated with pretzels and other great traditional food, beer and schlager music – one of Germany’s top genres of music (explained below).
People come fully dressed in customary garments. Men wear Lederhosen (brown, leather shorts), a button up shirt and vest or suspenders. Women come in Dirndls – a full, longer or shorter length dress with a white shirt. In recent years, women have also begun to wear a shorter, tighter version of Lederhosen as well. As you can see in the picture below of my boyfriend (left), a couple friends (right) and me, it is so much fun dressing up!
Because of my soccer schedule, I was unable to go to Munich this year, but a few friends and I were able to attend the local Oktoberfest in Erfurt, which was amazing! Coming up to the Domplatz (a huge area next to the famous, 1200 year old Cathedral), I heard screams coming from roller-coasters, bellows of laughter and loud chants to the beat of schlager songs. I could not wait to walk around and see everything this had to offer!
Sitting with friends and drinking a 1 liter beer, I suddenly started swaying back and forth to the famous song, “Fliegerlied” by Tim Toupet. Listening to the video below, you get the idea behind Germany’s favorite genre of music. Whether these sing-a-long and feel-good songs are about beautiful days and friends, like the video below, or about “the one” that got away, watching people sing to schlager music is very entertaining and contagious!
The last thing for today I will talk about is extremely important! It is that famous four-letter word that, if too much, makes you crazy like nothing else. Beer! Directly relating to and one of the main components of Oktoberfest, German beer is considered one of the best in the world. Of those, my favorites are: Paulaner, Erdinger, Krombacher, Beck’s and Spaten.
The original production process was very special and particular, and restricted to using only hops, barley and water. From the first Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot in German) in 1516 that has also much changed, many states still hold strict ingredient and process regulations. Although many think these laws thwarted the creativity and evolution of German beers, I think I can speak for millions of people when I say “Danke! Thank you!” for establishing this law because the beers are delicious! (Side note: Merci as well! The same goes to France for its delicious cheeses!)
Next time you are at Bev-Mo or another store with international alcoholic selection, try a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen beer. Take a glass (or a German 0.5 liter glass) and hold it at 45 degree angle. Slowly pour the beer and leave about 1cm of beer in the glass. Grab the bottom of the bottle with both hands and twist it repeatedly it to release the yeast at the bottom – this is the best part! Then, pour the remaining beer into the glass. From experience, adding a shot or two of banana juice before pouring the beer makes a “Bananweizen” and is so delicious! Sounds crazy, but trust me!
This is a great beginner’s guide, but “The Perfect Pour” about German beer will be coming soon! What are your favorite international beers? How do you celebrate Oktoberfest?