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Saturday, September 22, 2007

O'zapft is! Oktoberfest has begun!

Yes, it's Oktoberfest once again. But, do you really know what Oktoberfest is? Is it just a bunch of beer loving Germans swilling large tankers of fine German beer? Or is it more?

Read up on what Oktoberfest is all about over at Wikipedia...

The Oktoberfest is a two-week festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany during late September and early October. It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world's largest fair, with some six million people attending every year.

The event traditionally takes place during the 16 days up to and including the first Sunday in October. The schedule was changed following German reunification in 1990 so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival will go on until October 3rd (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the 1st Sunday is October 2nd and 18 days when it is October 1st. The festival is held on an area named the Theresienwiese (Field [or meadow] of Therese), often called "d’ Wiesn" for short. Beer plays a central role in the fair, with every festival beginning with a keg of beer tapped by the Mayor of Munich who declares "O'zapft is!" (Bavarian: "It’s tapped!"). A special Oktoberfest beer is brewed for the occasion, which is slightly darker and stronger, in both taste and alcohol. It is served in a one-liter-tankard called Maß. The first mass is served to the Bavarian Minister-President. Only local Munich breweries are allowed to serve this beer in a Bierzelt, a beer tent which is large enough for thousands. Note: the words 'stein' and 'lager' do not mean what many English speakers think they do so instead use 'Mass' or 'Helles' respectively

Visitors also consume large quantities of food, most of it traditional hearty fare such as sausage, hendl (chicken), käsespätzle (cheese noodles), and sauerkraut, along with such Bavarian delicacies as roast ox tails.

Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.

OK, so it's not just about beer, it's also about food! But why is it call Oktoberfest, when it starts in September?

In 1819, The town fathers of Munich took over festival management. They decided that the Oktoberfest should be celebrated every year without exception. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward. The reason being that the end of September in Bavaria often has very good weather. The high temperature in the first week of Oktoberfest nears 30 °C which stimulates the thirst of the visitors.

Well that makes sense, and Septemberfest doesn't sound as good either, now does it?

Check out the official Oktoberfest website here!

Plenty of photos, here and here!

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