Oktoberfest

I’ve got a lot of German heritage in my blood. My grandmother was born in Germany and German was her first language. My mom is also currently trying to rekindle her German speaking abilities. For these reasons, Germany is a country I’m longing to see! I wish I knew more about German history, culture, and modern life. I do know that Germany is currently seeking candidacy to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2011-2012. It’ll be interesting to see if they get a spot!

But…when would be a good time to visit Germany? Oktoberfest, of course! This yearly celebration held in the end of September is known as the largest fair in the world. Celebrated in Munich, Oktoberfest has been around since 1810 when King Ludwig I wanted to celebrate his marriage. The festival has grown in size ever since, only being cancelled for wars and outbreaks of cholera.

Musicians at Oktoberfest Parade

Oktoberfest opens at the Schottenhamel tent, where the mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Other opening ceremonies include large parade of the landlords of Oktoberfest, the breweries, traditional dancers and costumed performers. Another famous parade at the festival is the Oktoberfest Costume and Riflemen’s Parade which happens on the first Sunday. The festival lasts about sixteen days and gathers a crowd that has risen to as many as six million people. The modern celebration holds large beer halls to hold thousands of people to accommodate the large crowds instead of the traditional smaller tents. There are activities for everyone besides sampling the beer: carnival rides, music and a family day.

While I’d love to someday travel all over the country, Oktoberfest is definitely on the top of my list of sites to see in Germany. Tasting local beer and tapping glasses while saying “prost”, the German equivalent of our “cheers”, is the picture I have in my mind. The costumes, the polka music, the German beer all make for a 16 day long party! Oktoberfest would be such a great way to experience Germany, learn about its role in the international community, and get back to my German roots, making my German great-grandparents proud.

Laura Stoddard

Iowa UNA

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