Oktoberfest is already in full swing and rounding up next Sunday. Being under the assumption that the merriments were some kind of harvest celebration, we set out to write something meaningful about the wonderful gifts of autumn. Some quick fact-checking later, made us realize that we were completely in the wrong. Oktoberfest has nothing to do with the fruits of Mother Nature, but is kind of a wedding party gone astray… or more accurately a celebration of the unification of Germany in 1810, when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.
The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates. 40,000 people were in attendance. Together, Ludwig and Therese had eight children. However, Ludwig was forced to abdicate his throne following the Revolution of 1848, in part because of his affair with dancer, Lola Montez.
The original festivities like horse races were quickly replaced by beer carts and a carnival-like atmosphere. And what used to be a one-day commemoration was extended to sixteen days of revelry and heavy drinking.
Above (clockwise from top left): Brezel & senf, Barn Light — A German bar in Brooklyn, Detail of red lederhosen, Embroidered coat from Free People
Above (Clockwise from top left): German style chairs, A proper German gent, Antlers & flowers, Wurst & Sauerkraut
Above (Clockwise from top left): Swiss Log cabin with a view, A gentleman in the alps, Ceramic beer stein and beer, Fashionable milkmaid
Cancelled 24 times, twice due to cholera epidemics and several times due to war, Oktoberfest in Munich is still going strong and is the world’s largest fair, with over 6 million people attending each year from all over the world. In addition the jamboree is assimilated globally by countless amounts of people.
Our attempt to make a point about the origins of Oktoberfest going beyond a simple beer and sausage party and an excuse to get belligerently drunk in honor of tradition, failed miserably. We did, non the less, learn something new. One of them being, (assuming that we were not the only ones who were in the dark about the reasons for this celebration) how easily we adapt convention without questioning them, and how we participate in the celebrations historical events that we are completely oblivious of.
Secondly we learned is that the German Thanksgiving, Erntedankfest, is also coming up this Sunday the 6th of October. One of many precursors to the Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations, this holiday is mainly a religious one in German speaking countries. Perhaps almost drowned by in the sea of beer that is Oktoberfest, it is far from as celebrated as its North American counterparts. Yet, interestingly enough, many aspects of the New World’s Thanksgiving celebrations have caught on in Europe, making roasted turkey a new fall-food-favorite.
Our Oktoberfest mood board, despite the origins, did give us an excuse to revel in the intricate beauty that is Bavarian and Tirol embroidery, traditional gowns, dirndls and lederhosen; To get lost in some good old country romance and dreams of snow capped mountains and rustic log cabins.