If it’s October, it must be time to raise a glass of beer to celebrate, well, beer… right?
Or the month of October?
Or is it the harvesting of hops?
Isn’t this what Oktoberfest is all about?
Contrary to our 21st century understanding of this much loved holiday, Oktoberfest was not actually a celebration of beer. In the last 200 years it has evolved just a tiny bit from the original party plan.
Simply put, it began as a royal wedding celebration.
Once upon a time, on October 12, 1810, deep in the heart of Bavaria (and not far from the home of the original Bayer clan) Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen were married.
To celebrate their nuptials the citizens of Munich, all 50,000 of them, were invited to attend a festival held on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were affectionately named Theresienwiese, or “Theresa’s fields,” in honor of the soon-to-be queen of Bavaria. Tents, food, music and merriment ensued and without a doubt, the beverage of the day was a Bavarian variety called, Weiss Bier or “white beer.”
The celebration in 1810 concluded with a series of horse races presented in front of the Royal Family and those exciting horse races are our ticket to today’s festivities. The whole of Bavaria decided the races should be a yearly event. With interruptions only for the outbreak of cholera and various wars, the festival continued.
Though the horse race was eventually replaced with carousels and family friendly games, Oktoberfest is as lively as ever. In fact, as you read this the Theresienwiese is filled; just over 6 million attendees from all over the world will celebrate there, together, up until the first Sunday in October.
To King Ludwig and Queen Therese! Prost!
-Holly Bayer, ASID