Wedding Bells and Horses: Oktoberfest Prosit!

OktoberfestThe long wait is history as the 176th annual Oktoberfest has been underway in Munich, Germany. The first keg has been ceremoniously tapped this past Saturday and that means (if you’re in the Munich area) you’ll be seeing a lot of Lederhosen, Dirndls and heart-shaped gingerbread (Lebkuchenherze) adorned with postcard greeting-styled messages. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ll be hearing plenty of  Prosit! cheers, and lest we forget the clinking of large Bavarian-styled jugs that contain the liquid gold that lends this festival its fame. For the next 13 days (until October 4th) over 6 million attendees from all over the world are expected to make an appearance at the largest festival of its kind and largest festival in the world. These lucky folks will be taking home a tale of experiences that will be passed on to generations to come.

The Beginning …
With so many years passed since its origin, people tend to forget what brought it to life in the first place. Let’s forget, for a moment, about the beer, tents, chants etc., and replace this scene with horses and a famous newlywed couple. That’s right, when the Oktoberfest first premiered on October 12, 1810, it was dedicated to a public nuptial celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and his bride Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. The main attraction of this event was a horse race (and of course the married couple,) set on the Theresienwiese (“Therese’s meadow.”) Though booze (beer) was a key player at this event, it grew in matter of prevalence as the years passed and increased in popularity. Fast forward nearly 200 years and the horses have disappeared (except for when they make a brief appearance at the Parade of the Oktoberfest Breweries on opening day.) There is no mention of Ludwig or Therese (unless unintentionally uttered in the context of the festival’s location, the Theresienwiese.)

Today’s Oktoberfest is legendary and for what it’s worth, it’s always good to remember how things came into being. If you happen to be sitting on a bench in one of the large tents, why not chant a song about Therese and Ludwig whose wedding vows gave birth to this one-of-a-kind festival!

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