13 October 2022

Back in 1810 then Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. To celebrate, all the citizens were invited to party in a field in front of the city gates. This field was renamed Theresienwiese or Theresa’s Meadow and still retains that name today.

What’s a good Teutonic observance without some beer, food, and games? Somehow a horse race came into play, and the origins seem to be confused, nonetheless, it spawned what we still call an annual Oktoberfest held in Munich in the same field.

A festival begins in mid to late September or around the first Sunday in October and involves copious amounts of the amber stuff that foams and even a travelling carnival.

Without venturing to Europe, you can still celebrate this event in your own home or backyard.

Your checklist should always start with the food. Keep it simple. For an appetizer, go a charceuterie board with summer sausage, muenster cheese (or neutral Swiss), pretzels, grainy mustard and miniature rye and/or pumpernickle. Throw some sausage (wurst) on the grill, a few sides and a strudel for dessert. Shop at one of the really great breweries or wineries for the alcohol and hit the local bakeries for a Black Forest cake if you don’t want to mess up your kitchen. (Or, check out the companion article). Cider is a good choice for the non-alcoholic side.

Consider a menu board. It can be as simple as a black chalkboard or dry erase board or something more fancy. Crafting sites have videos of how easy it can be.

Use blue and white (“Bavarian” colors) checkered tablecloths. Check out plasticware beer steins and wine glasses. Get a play list of oompah music and play it as long as you dare and then switch to whatever your guests would prefer. Find a Bavarian flag or banners, wreaths, evergreens, or whatever you can put together. The idea is to keep a simple décor. The emphasis should be on the party and the guests.

A large part of the Munich festival is a carnival. While your neighbors might object to a ferris wheel in your backyard, you could probably get away with a stein relay race. Fill the steins with water and have them run an obstacle course and then trade with a partner who must navigate the same route in the other direction. Whoever is fastest and spills the least, wins. You can also have partners stand apart and toss pretzels. One variation is to keep increasing the distance like in an egg toss or water balloon toss. Another is to have one partner holding a basket and see how many pretzels they can catch in a minute. Make up your own rules. Find Oktoberfest trivia and see who knows the most insignificant information.

You can also give prizes for the best costumes, for those who dare!

The bottom line is that this is a good excuse to have a party. Make it your own whether it is just your immediate family, the neighborhood, or a community of friends.

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