In the United States, almost 20% of people claim German ancestry. In California alone, the number of residents with German heritage totals 3 million people. Nearly everyone knows Oktoberfest as an event featuring beer, brats, and dancing galore, but very few people know the long history behind it. Here are a few fascinating historical points to share with your friends during the festivities!
Oktoberfest began in 1810 in Munich (where the main event is still held today) as a continuation of a party surrounding a royal wedding. The celebration was so much fun, the country decided to make it a yearly occasion. After 1819, the celebration was moved forward a few weeks to take advantage of warmer weather and longer days. Originally, beer was not a keystone of the festivities; an agricultural show and horse races were the biggest draws. Once allowed, beer stands began to crop up, which were replaced by beer halls in 1896 due to their popularity. While beer and food remained popular attractions, the last horse race was held in 1960 and the agricultural show is now held only every four years.
There have been 24 occasions during which Oktoberfest was canceled, often due to an outbreak of disease or war. A few of the most notable cancellations were due to being at war with Napoleon, an outbreak of cholera, and both World Wars. The festival also underwent a short-lived name change from 1946-1948 where it was dubbed “Autumn Festival”.
Drinks and Dance
According to VistaWide, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival with 6 million people consuming 1.5 million gallons of beer during the 16-day festival. The beer served during festivities is a unique brew called Märzen, which contains around 6% alcohol. It is stronger and darker than most beer. The food is hearty, including a variety of potato dishes, soft pretzels, sausage, and other meats. The Munich festival includes a variety of fair rides and games to accompany the music, food, and beer.
Here at Conrey Insurance Brokers, we want to wish you a very festive Octoberfest, no matter how you celebrate. O’zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”) And because we always stress proper protection and risk management, please remember to drink responsibly.