Every year, around 6 million beer-lovers from across Germany and the world embark upon a pilgrimage to Munich for the legendary Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is the most popular folk festival in the world. It is a celebration of Bavarian culture, not just of beer. There are parades, rides and bands organized during the festival, but let’s face it, we’re here for the food. Huge beer tents are set up on the grounds, where you can guzzle down beer from massive 1 liter beer mugs called ‘steins’. Over the course of two weeks, 7 million liters of beer is gulped down, along with thousands of pounds of sausages, meat and pretzels. Find these numbers mind-boggling? Here are seven more incredible facts you might not have known about Oktoberfest.
1. Oktoberfest wasn’t supposed to be about beer
Today Oktoberfest is a celebration of our collective love for beer, but it didn’t start out that way. When it first began in 1810, it was to celebrate the royal wedding of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese. All the citizens of Munich were invited to take part in the festivities. On the last day of the festival, horse races were conducted to mark the end of the celebration. Every year since, the horse races continued in October, giving rise to what was called, ‘Oktoberfest’. After a few years, small beer stalls were set up by the horse races, so people could have something to quench their thirst. Over time however, beer proved to be more popular than horses and Oktoberfest turned into the beer festival we know today.
2. All the beer comes from just six breweries
Just any old beer won’t do for something as sacred as Oktoberfest. It might seem like it would take all the breweries in the country to produce that much beer, but in reality, it takes only six. These six local Munich breweries were the traditional beer suppliers during every Oktoberfest, with the oldest one dating back to 1328. Don’t be surprised if the beer doesn’t taste anything like the kind you’re used to. The beer for Oktoberfest is specially made for it, and has around 6% alcohol. In the past, brewing beer was outlawed during the summer because it was considered a fire hazard. The idea of not drinking beer for the entire summer was unthinkable, so local breweries made a special kind of beer with a much higher alcohol concentration. The increased alcohol content meant that the beer wouldn’t spoil during the hot summer months. These days, refrigerating beer keeps it from spoiling, so the traditional methods have long since gone out of use. However, every year for Oktoberfest, the six original breweries make beer in the traditional way again, with 6% alcohol by weight. With beer this strong, it isn’t uncommon to find people lying passed out because of it. Locals even have a term for them- ‘Bierleichen’ or beer corpses.
3. Anyone can enter- except Paris Hilton
Always been jealous of Paris Hilton’s millions of dollars, chains of hotels and unending supply of luxury cars? Well, here’s something that will make Paris Hilton jealous of you for a change. In 2006, the hotel-heiress showed up at Oktoberfest, wearing a traditional Bavarian dress, to promote a brand of canned wine. Locals were outraged that their cherished cultural fest was selling out by having celebrities use it for promotions. They were equally up in arms over what she was promoting in the first place. Germans are staunch puritans when it comes to their alcohol. They even turn their noses up at canned beer, but canned wine? That’s plain sacrilegious in their books. The result of this entire backlash was that starting 2007, Paris Hilton was banned for life from Oktoberfest for “cheapening” the event.
4. There’s alost and found section for children
Alcohol and good parenting don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. With both hands holding steins full of beer, many parents can’t keep a hold of their children as well. Losing children doesn’t seem to be all that uncommon during Oktoberfest; there’s even a special ‘lost and found’ section just for missing children. The most common thing that goes missing during Oktoberfest however, is clothes. More than 1300 items of clothing were found one year, including pants, shirts and shoes. Other usual suspects in the lost and found section are ID cards, mobile phones, wallets and even dentures. Many times, wheel chairs and crutches end up in the lost and found section as well. How those unlucky people got home is anyone’s guess.
5. You can tell if a woman is available by her bow
Most women wear the traditional Bavarian dress, the dirndl, to Oktoberfest. But what the men should be focusing on is where she ties her bow. The placement of the bow was traditionally a subtle way to communicate your relationship status to the world. Bow-etiquette is still very much a part of Oktoberfest, so here’s how you decipher it. If a woman is single and open to flirting, she will tie her bow to the left side. A bow tied to the right side indicates that a woman is married or in a serious relationship. Do not try to hit on her or she might send a stein crashing down your head in return. A bow in the middle traditionally means a girl is a virgin. If you unknowingly tie your bow in the middle, you might get a few astonished looks coming your way. A bow tied at the back could mean one of two things: either a woman is a widow or a waitress. You can find out which one she is by looking at how many beer steins she’s carrying. Fun fact: the record for the most number of steins carried by a single person is 29.
6. The steins find themselves in the middle of a lot of drama
The massive 1 liter beer steins are heavy-duty beer mugs which can just as easily be used as deadly weapons. Alcohol isn’t known for making people particularly level-headed and beer is no exception. The amount of beer consumed each year at Oktoberfest is enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools. With all this beer flowing, it’s not surprising that drunken brawls are pretty much a daily event. What makes them so dangerous is that many of them end with a stein being smashed on someone’s head. At 1.3 kgs, these beer steins are capable of doing some major damage to the unfortunate skull they come into contact with. Luckily, there’s a Red Cross tent set up in the grounds, for any patron who needs medical attention. Beer steins are also a part of another kind of crime: theft. 1,10,000 steins were confiscated by security one year, from people hoping to steal them as a souvenir.
7. There are apps just for Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest might have started 200 years ago, but technology has quickly caught up with it. The main Oktoberfest app is a great way to get all the information you can about the festival. You can check out the different bands performing, descriptions of each tent and even the prices of beer being sold. Don’t want to get drunk out of your mind at this year’s Oktoberfest? There’s an app that can measure how much beer you’re drinking, check your blood rate and notify you if you’re drinking way more than you can handle. If you’ve been unlucky in love this year, Oktoberfest can turn things around for you. There’s a ‘flirt and find’ app that lets you text other singles at Oktoberfest and even meet them at one of the huge beer tents.
Wishing you could experience Oktoberfest for yourself? With our Oktoberfest special, you can have a taste of Oktoberfest much closer to home. Visit Feathers Hotel Chennai for unlimited beer, delicious starters and great music to go along with it.