Hi guys! Julia here,
After moving to the US about five years ago, it amazed me to learn that so many Americans still associate Germans with drinking beer and wearing Lederhosen. To be honest, these associations are more accurate at a certain time of year in the fall: most Germans love Oktoberfest! The Oktoberfest celebration is rooted in Munich, Bavaria. Though I am from Berlin and never lived in Bavaria (despite one internship in Munich), I have to admit that I created my own Dirndl in Germany, and have been to the famous Oktoberfest tents once. Today I’m excited to share a bit about our German tradition, and how Americans can celebrate over here.
Let’s start with some fun facts. Oktoberfest actually opens in September (already the 17th this year!), and continues until the first week of October. Why the September start? Well, the delightfully warmer weather, of course! This year the festival ends on October 3rd, which is German Unity Day. While it’s safe to say that most Germans indulge in a pint or two during the weeks of Oktoberfest, remember that it is technically a festival from the region of Bavaria, not all of Germany! I told you! This is why festival-goers wear the traditional South German or Bavarian attire-- Lederhosen (leather shorts) and Dirndl (a traditional dress) for the girls.
Want to wow your family and friends with some Oktoberfest trivia numbers? Here goes!
First, 1.8 million gallons of beer are consumed each year at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Second, the traditional stein of beer costs about thirteen U.S. dollars.
Third, about 6 million people attend Oktoberfest each year.
And fourth-- the largest tent at Oktoberfest can hold up to 10,000 people!
That’s a lot of jolly beer-drinkers!
While generous German lagers are the main event, Oktoberfest can be inclusive for the whole family. Savory meats and warm, salty carbs are essential to Bavarian fare, so even the kids can get in on the fun of hearty bratwurst, twisted pretzels, and sweet, fried potato dumplings. Traditional recipes can be found here. No Oktoberfest celebration is complete without bread to soak up the beer, and salt-laden meats to keep you thirsty for more! I personally love warm pretzels with sweet mustard and Weisswurst (white sausage). This sausage is probably the most traditional Oktoberfest dish. If you like to make your own, Wholefoods or Trader Joe's offer German Weisswurst, Pretzels and other traditional food. Wegmans sells German potato dumplings (Panni) that are really easy to make at home.
German beerfests have become increasingly popular in the USA. Many restaurants and pubs offer celebrations from mid-September to the end of October. In addition, there are community events that attract thousands of people each year. A list of events per state can be found here.
If you’d like to set up your own Oktoberfest, party supplies can be easily found online or at your local party store. Blue and white table cloths (colors of Bavaria) are a must, as well as proper attire and large glass beer steins. If you don’t want to spent a fortune on a real costume, we have a fun substitute! Try our Button Paper napkins, Sepp (for the guys) and Liesl (for the girls), that easily clip to the buttons of your shirt and will surely make for a great laugh. We also offer fun sausage plates made of porcelain. These work great all year round, but are especially perfect for your Oktoberfest celebration!!! To get the party started, don’t forget traditional German music (Blasmusik)!
To you and yours during this festive time of year, cheers (or, as we Germans say, Prost!)!