Oktoberfest down under

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Oktoberfest being celebrated in Munich this year. 

By JILLIAN KERZNER

It is no secret that Australians will find any reason to crack open a beer and listen to live music, but why is Germany’s Oktoberfest so big in Australia?

With celebrations almost every weekend in October around Melbourne alone, one would think Australians know what they are celebrating.

Callum Pritchett attended St Kilda’s Oktoberfest celebration last Sunday and said Oktoberfest was about the coming together of cultures in Australia.

He was confident the meaning behind Oktoberfest “is actually to celebrate the coming of Spring in Germany, which is in October”.

However in Germany, October is the beginning of autumn. 

In fact, Oktoberfest began as a celebration after Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese on October 12, 1810 in Munich.

Citizens of Munich celebrated for days following the wedding on the fields in front of the city gates and when the horse races were repeated the next year the tradition of Oktoberfest was born.

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It’s all about the beer.

Maddy Browne, a Monash University exchange student from the United States, said this was her first year celebrating Oktoberfest.

She said St Kilda’s Oktoberfest celebration was a social and fun environment.

She did not know its origins, but said she celebrated because “it is a fun social event I get to experience with friends and meet new people from all over”.

Australia is certainly not the only country to adopt the celebration.

Canada hosts the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich, attracting more than 700,000 people.

In Munich, more than six million people celebrate the festival, while in Melbourne it is estimated that 50,000 people will attend Oktoberfest events.

Ms Browne said Oktoberfest was a good opportunity to celebrate another culture.

“I think it is celebrated in Australia because Australia is influenced by so many different places in the world.

“It is good to celebrate other people’s cultures.”

After attending St Kilda’s Oktoberfest celebration, Ms Browne said Australia celebrated Oktoberfest right, with inspiration from the traditional German culture and good beer, of course.

From dancing at the silent disco, to seeing a girl being taken away on a stretcher while puking into a pizza box, Ms Browne said her Oktoberfest experience was one she would not forget.