Why is Oktoberfest held in September?

Posted on Posted in Europe travel

Three facts about the world’s biggest beer bash

  • Shouldn’t it be called Septemberfest?

The first question that invariably pops up around Oktoberfest in Munich is, why is it held in September?  The first Oktoberfest was held 108 years ago in honor of a Bavarian royal wedding, and as might be imagined it was smack in the middle of the month for which it is named:  Oct. 12 to 17th.

As it turns out, people enjoyed this excuse to binge on local brews for more than just five days, and so it was gradually extended to the current 16. It also proved much more fun to drink beer outdoors on mild sunny days, rather than under the cold rains that perennially pick up in October and last well into November. Thus, the September start. This year’s Oktoberfest runs from Sept 22 to Oct. 7.

Credit: Digital Cat/Creative Commons

  • What’s up with the leather shorts?

Once upon a time, lederhosen were considered a pretty practical work outfit throughout the Alps. Just as the dyed blue canvas pants that sailors favored in Genoa (that came to be named “jeans” for the French name of the city) were the most durable option of the time, so were leather shorts and suspenders well- suited to the climbing, gardening, and other outdoor necessities in the mountains and fields.

Around the turn of the century these Pinocchio-esque pants fell out of style among the bourgeois city folks as typical redneck clothing, but in later years enjoyed a rebound in Bavaria as people celebrated their local roots. Lederhosen are now de rigeur at all kinds of folk festivals for anyone at least pretending to be a Bavarian.

  • How much beer is actually there?

At one recent Oktoberfest, 7.7 million liters of beer were sold over the two-week period. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, that’s equivalent to 260,367,975 ounces or about 21,697,331 cans of beer.

Of course, the brew at Oktoberfest is presented in the famous one-liter steins. But if they were 12oz cans, and you were to stack up the empties on top of one another, you would have a cylinder reaching 8.6 million feet, or 1,627 miles in the air, or about the distance from Munich to Cairo. That’s a lot of beer.

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