A Toast to the Interesting Facts about Oktoberfest
Over six million liters of beer, 80,000 liters of wine, 30,000 bottles of champagne, 50,000 pork knuckles, and a gazillion pretzels served by fräulein wearing an Alpine costume – these are the stuff that make Oktoberfest one of the world’s most celebrated events. Every year the estimated 6 million guests from Munich and other parts of the globe continue to rise as more avid Oktoberfest fans wait for the Mayor to tap the first stein of beer to signal the opening ceremonies.
If you might ask why Oktoberfest attracts millions of visitors each year, here’s why.
- Date – Oktoberfest is held in September, not October despite bearing the name of the month. The festival usually starts on the Saturday after September 15 when the weather is a bit warmer, and closes on the first Sunday of October.
- Oktoberfest Grounds – The festival is held on the Theresienwiese in Munich, Wiesn for short, in honor of Queen Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen whom Crown King Ludwig of Bavaria married in October 1810. The grounds cover 31 hectares that is big enough to contain all the tents and people trooping to celebrate. Entrance to the Oktoberfest grounds is free, as well as the entry into the huge tents. Other attractions include carnival rides in the likes of the Olympia looping and the giant Ferris wheel.
- Tents – Technically, the Oktoberfest tents are not tents but humungous halls erected by premier breweries in the country. The tents are made of steel and wood to ensure their stability while the festival lasts. The 14 larger tents have a seating capacity of more than 10,000 while the 18 smaller tents can seat a few hundred revellers. Overall, there are available seats for more than 100,000 people each Oktoberfest day. The largest tent, Hofbräu-Festzelt, is home to the famous Hofbräuhaus beer, making it a favorite hangout destination among international tourists and celebrities.
On peak hours, it can be difficult to find a seat if you arrive late. However, you can make seat reservations with the tent proprietor for a minimum of 10 people. There is no reservation fee, only food or beer voucher that entitles you to two beers and half chicken.
- Beer – The Märzenbier is a lager brewed in Munich. It has an alcohol content of 6 – 7 percent slightly stronger than regular German beer. The beer is served in huge glass mug called Maß so you can easily see if you’ve been served one liter. The mugs are properties of the breweries, pocketing them as a souvenir of your Oktoberfest drinking can lead you into some troubles with authorities. However, you can purchase a real mug and other items from souvenir shops that proliferate in the grounds.
- Pork Knuckles – Locally known as Schweinshaxe in Bavaria, the pork knuckle is the chunk of leg between the knee or elbow and the foot of a pig. It is either roasted or grilled until tender and juicy, with crispy crust that cracks to the bite. It is traditionally served with mashed or boiled potatoes, sausages, and pea puree.
- Sauerkraut – Probably the most well known German food, Sauerkraut is made of finely-chopped green cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. The process is what gives the cabbage its sour flavor; thus, the name for it, which literally means sour cabbage.
- Sausages – Another popular Oktoberfest food is Bratwurst, which refers to pork sausage encased in animal intestine. There are more than 50 kinds of Bratwurst available in Germany, courtesy of each region with their own version using their special kind of seasonings.
- Pretzels – Oktoberfest serves the traditional German pretzel with dark brown, crispy, and salty crust but soft inside. The easily recognizable crossed “arms” shape is surrounded by many theories on how they came to be. Others say it originated in a monastery hence it resembles a praying monk. Today, the pretzels remain to be shaped using human hands as has been practiced in the past.
- Lederhosen and Dirndl – Going to Oktoberfest without dressing up is like attending a masquerade ball without wearing a costume. Through the years, amazing throngs of people attending Oktoberfest are dressed in traditional Bavarian attire. More than 50 percent of men are wearing German Bavarian Oktoberfest Lederhosen costume or vest, while the women are usually clad in fräulein vest.
The next time you find yourself in Munich, make sure to be in the groove of the Oktoberfest celebration with all these facts. More importantly, don’t appear out of place during Oktoberfest. Visit online shops to find the most fitting Oktoberfest clothing for you.