Oktoberfest in Munich – Fun Facts

Oktoberfest in Munich –  Fun Facts
Aloisius is an angel, "Der Münchner im Himmel", who has taken "leave of absence" from heaven. Staying in Munich's Hofbräuhaus at his "Stammtisch" seemed a better idea than living on a cloud playing a harp, and having to sing "Hosianna" all day.

During Oktoberfest he spends his time in the Hofbräu Festzelt, the "party till you drop tent", sitting on a cloud suspended high above the tables so he can enjoy the scene, and act as a benign influence on those beneath him.

Although an "Angel" he is often the target of beer soaked clothes thrown by revelers. One of those traditions of which no one seems to know the origins.

Oktoberfest in Munich opens at 12 noon on Saturday when the "Oberbürgermeister", Lord Mayor, of the city taps the first keg of beer and shouts "O'zapft is", Bavarian dialect for "It’s tapped". The embarrassing record for which of Munich's Mayors needed the most "taps" goes to Thomas Wimmer in 1950; he took 19 strokes to finally "crack it". But understandable, as he was also the first Mayor to have to tap the keg.

While the biggest "blooper" during the opening ceremony was in 1978, when instead of "O'zapft is", meaning "it's tapped" and Bairisch for "Es ist angezapft", the mayor of the time Erich Kiesl shouted out "I'zapt os". And this was before any beer had been consumed.

As a Bavarian tourist highlight with about six million visitors every year, any Oktoberfest reveler should be aware there is a "right way" to hold a Mass, which holds a liter of beer, about two pints.

To prevent fingers ending up crushed, bruised or even broken when the inevitable, and frequent, "clashing" of glasses for a "Prost" or during a "sing along" takes place, all four fingers must grip the handle from the outside curling inside. The thumb remains outside and over the top of the handle. At the same time, as no part of a warm hand touches the glass, this helps the beer stay cooler longer.

And don't be surprised if the server takes away your Mass when there is still a little beer remaining. A Münchener will never empty a glass, however this is not simply a "German tradition" but because the beer will have become warm and stale.

With thousands of guests in each tent those serving the beer have to carry as many Mass as possible at one time, twelve is not unusual, and currently the world record is 23 full Mass carried through an Oktoberfest tent for 450 feet.

Probably the most popular song heard throughout Munich's Oktoberfest weeks is the "The Wies'n Anthem" - "Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit"... "Oanss, zwoa, drei...Gsuffa!", "One, two, three, drink!". A rough translation is "Cheers, here's to - friendliness, cosiness, happiness" etc.

Despite not originating in Bavaria, but Saxony in the east and with no connection to Oktoberfest, it has been a favorite among the "Trinklieder" since 1912.

For generations Bavarians have called the Oktoberfest "Wiesn" from "Theresienwiese", Theresa’s Fields, for Princess Theresa whose marriage to Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria brought about the first "Oktoberfest".

At the time a horse race with no connection to beer, it was a genuine October celebration as it took place on October 17, 1810, but because of September's better weather the date was changed. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October, a tradition that continues into present times, and was held for sixteen days until the first Sunday in October.

After German reunification this was modified, so now if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd the festival continues until the Sunday that follows German Unity Day, which falls on October 3. Then it really is "Aus is!"

Two traditional processions pass through the city's streets to the "Wiesn", the "Einzug der Festwirte", Grand entry of the Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries, on the first day and the "Trachten und Schuetzenumzug", Costume and Riflemen's Procession, on the second day. Both processions led by Munich's city mascot for the last 800 years, Münchener Kindl, who was originally portrayed as one of the monks believed to have been the first inhabitants of Munich.

"München", the German name of the city, means "Of Monks".

These days "Oktoberfest Münchener Kindl" is a young woman from the Munich area, her costume based on a monk’s habit and invariably chosen through her connections to a leading Oktoberfest family.

Another young woman also has to be a Münchener in order to qualify for a post, and she is the annual Wiesn-Playmate, "Munich Oktoberfest Playmate". This time no nepotism is involved, and Playboy magazine's choice not only appears in print much as other "Playmates", but also has to fit a Dirndl in all the right places.

"Dirndl", is now used to describe the traditional dress, but originally described a young woman or a girl in Bavarian dialect.

The special Wiesn beer has a high alcohol content and this seems to come as a surprise to many, so the Bavarian Red Cross are kept very busy dealing with "Bierleichen", Beer Corpses, while also supplying paper underwear etc. No one, even those whose clothes might now be decorating Aloisius the Angel for example, need leave the Wiesn in a state of undress.

Photo credits: Oktoberfest Parade via Munich.de...Aloisius who should be "Ein Münchener im Himmel", but floats on a cloud in the Hofbräu Festzelt - personal collection..."Carrying 12 Mass on one trip", courtesy 20min.ch...Munich's City Coat of Arms, a Monk in habit, via de.Wikipedia

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