The History of Oktoberfest

adobestock_90285426-minJust about everyone has heard of Oktoberfest. It is often mainly associated with drinking, but this holiday is about more than having a cold one. If you don’t know much about the history of Oktoberfest, read a little bit about this huge celebration, so your community can plan your own Oktoberfest celebration.

How Did Oktoberfest Begin?

Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The marriage occurred on October 12, 1810, and to celebrate, all the citizens of Munich were invited to festivities to show their respect and love for the prince and princess.  At the end of the event, horse races were held for the royal family. The following year, the horse races were held again, and this is what lead to Oktoberfest.

How Did Oktoberfest Grow?

That following year, besides horse races, there was an agricultural show. The hope was that it would improve agriculture throughout Bavaria. At first, there wasn’t much in the way of amusement besides the horse races and agricultural show. It wasn’t until 1818 that a couple of rides first appeared. Beer also became an important part of Oktoberfest. At first, there were only small beer stands, but they grew each year and became beer tents and halls. Eventually, more and more activities and rides were added.

How Is Oktoberfest Celebrated Today?

Today, the horse races are no longer a part of Oktoberfest, but the agricultural show continues. Despite losing the horse races, the Oktoberfest is still incredibly popular. It is actually the world’s largest festival, and millions of people from around the world come to the Theresienwiese (the same fields where the first Oktoberfest was held) each year to celebrate this iconic holiday. If you plan to travel to Munich to celebrate, however, don’t be surprised if the locals call the holiday “Wies’n,” which is short for Theresienwiesen.

While it isn’t realistic to have your entire community travel to Theresienwiese, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Oktoberfest in your own way in your community. Create foods and serve beers from around the world, just make sure everyone drinks responsibly. If you are ready to get started on your Oktoberfest celebration, you can begin today by thinking of some dishes people can bring.


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