Behind the Words: Oktoberfest

Munich Oktoberfest.

The advertising starts before Labor Day: Oktoberfest is coming! Since the calendar still says September, it seems as appropriate as Christmas advertising that starts at Halloween. In this case, however, jumping the gun may actually be justified.

According to Wikipedia,  the genuine Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival held annually since 1810 in the Bavarian city of Munich,  Germany, from late September to the first weekend in October. It is reportedly the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending annually.

Although it began when Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12,1810,  the festival was eventually prolonged and moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October.

Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event and often founded by German immigrants or their descendants.. It is generally an excuse for people to consume large quantities of beer and traditional German food such as bratwurst, strudel and red cabbage. The largest Oktoberfests outside of Germany are in the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Blumenau, Brazil; Cincinnati, Ohio; and in Seattle, Washington’s Fremont neighborhood and the Bavarian-style tourist town of Leavenworth, Washington. The Leavenworth Oktoberfest, unlike most of the others, is actually held on the first three weekends in October.  What a concept!

If you don’t have your own reference library to fact-check terms like this, you can always rely on a nitpicking editor to do it for you.



Filed under Behind the Words, Commentary

3 responses to “Behind the Words: Oktoberfest

  1. Hey Mike–

    I read your posts often – it’s nice to read good writing in a blog. I just caught the one about Oktoberfest. I used to live in the Freemont neighborhood of Seattle in the early 80s when my son was little. We’d walk up to Woodland Park Zoo and if really ambitious roller skate around Green Lake. Good memories.
    We have a number of various Oktoberfest goings on here in “downeast” Maine where I love now – and some are actually in October!
    Keep up the good writing and correcting ours.

    • Hello, Sally:

      Thanks for the kind words and the Seattle memories. If you keep bouncing coast-to-coast, maybe we’ll bump into each other again one of these years. Meanwhile, keep reading and enjoying life as a Maine-iac!



  2. There are currently fourteen large tents and twenty small tents at the Oktoberfest. The tents themselves are non-permanent structures which are constructed for and only used during the festival. The beer (or wine ) served in each is in the accompanying table.

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