Ready to do the Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest?
Beer, pretzels, beer, music, beer: is this everything you know about Oktoberfest? Well, Oktoberfest is all about history and tradition, so read on to learn about Oktoberfest and where in OC you can raise your stein.
This beloved, annual beer celebration began in 1810 in Munich when the entire village attended the Royal Wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (of Bavaria), later King Ludwig I, and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. A love of horse races kept the party going year after year.
The timing also coincided with hot summer weather and the lack of refrigeration, which made it impossible to brew beer. In fact, March was the last month beer was brewed. According to Greg Gerovac, local brew master at Anaheim Brewery, “These beers were brewed stronger, so they would store better, and were kept in ice-packed caves and cellars over the spring and summer months. In the fall, it was traditional to drink up all of the last year’s strong beer in order to make room for the new beer about to be brewed. That’s why most of the beer at fall festivals (like Oktoberfest) are “Märzen” beers or Märzenbier, a full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color.”
Building on tradition, Greg and Barbara Gerovac serve up their Oktoberfest lager from a 100-year-old Munich recipe at their tasting room and Oktoberfest celebration held on October 13, 4 p.m.-10 p.m. They also follow the tradition of allowing the mayor to tap the first keg. In Munich, Oktoberfest customarily begins inside the oldest beer tent, Schottenhamel, when Munich's mayor taps the first keg and exclaims, "O'zapft is!" or, "It is tapped!"
By the late 1800s, Munich breweries provided tents, halls and long tables to create an inviting atmosphere. Beer tents and long tables continue on as part of the history that brings together people in community-like setting. Old World in Huntington Beach hosts their Oktoberfest from September 9 – October 28 in a hall covered with Bavarian symbols such as Edelweiss flowers. The Phoenix Club in Anaheim decks their hall with blue and white streamers, the colors of Bavaria. Their celebration lasts from September 14 - October 28.
Traditional outfits include lederhosen and a Trachten hat, or German-style hiking hat, adorned with a tuft of goat hair for men. Women wear a dress called a dirndl, an ensemble of a bodice, a blouse, and a full-skirt with apron. Hardy and simple, originally the dress was not as sexy as it appears today, but instead designated your origins as each village had its own style and crest.
The dirndl also signifies your relationship status, depending on where you tie the bow: left means single; a knot tied on the right means that she is married, engaged or otherwise "taken," a knot tied in the front means that she is a virgin and a knot tied at the back reveals that the woman is widowed.
Other traditions include one-liter krugs (steins), the brezel (soft pretzel), Lebkuchen (gingerbread necklace), sausage, and brass bands playing an oom-pah song Der Ententanz ("Dance Little Bird") so revelries can dance the Chicken Dance.
Well informed, you are now ready to raise your krugs and toast Ein Prosit at OC’s favorite Oktoberfest celebrations!