Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh, Oktoberfest? Um… JA!

When my Dad and Michelle sent me an email several weeks before our departure asking if I was interested in attending the large Oktoberfest celebration on the base I believe it took me about a nanosecond to say, “Um, JA!”

The first "Oktoberfest" was held on October 12, 1810, in Munich, Germany. Originally it was one big wedding reception, celebrating the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The event was so successful, that they decided to do it again and again and again. It has since become the largest festival in the world, with some 6 million visitors a year.

Although, the festivities on the base in Geilenkirchen are considerably more humble than the fanfare in Munich, the elements are still the same. Lots of traditional beer, lots of traditional food, lots of traditional music and lots of rip-roaring-foot-stomping-gut-busting good times.

Germans have been perfecting the art of throwing a good party for over 200 years and believe me when I tell you they are now full fledged “Masters of the Fete”.

Arriving as the doors opened on the big night, priority number one was to secure a table. Traditional Oktoberfest tables are long and skinny, with long benches on either side. The idea being that everyone, whether they know each other or not, sits side by side, drinks in hand, to laugh and toast and celebrate TOGETHER! Even if the person sitting next to you isn’t a friend, they will be by the time the night is over.

Settled into our seats and surrounded by current and soon to be friends, the next priority of the night was food, and of course, DRINKS! Traditional drink at Oktoberfest is a stein of beer, and when the German’s serve you a beer they don’t mess around! Here are Michelle and I ready to start the night right!

(In the spirit of full disclosure, this was not actually my beer. At the time of this picture I was actually drinking some REALLY excellent German red wine. But since I didn’t want to look like a wimp with a teeny tiny glass of wine, I posed with my Dad’s beer. I promise that later on I did consume TWO of these massive mugs of ale, and as you can imagine, I was feeling no pain by the end of the night!)

So… seats? CHECK. Drinks? CHECK. Now… FOOD!

When at Oktoberfest, I feel like there are only two acceptable food choices, regardless of what is on the menu. Bratwurst or Schweinshaxe, also known as Ham Hock or Pig’s Knuckle. Since I can get a bratwurst in most any place in the U.S., there was only one choice for me,

YUM!!! It’s like your own little delicious pork roast! Jeez, my mouth is watering right now just remembering the flavor and tenderness! Given the size of this mammoth meal, Michelle and I shared, and then when we couldn’t eat anymore Dad ate what was left.

With a full belly, and a drink in hand the rowdy merriment began!! Being that my parents rarely get to spoil their children who all live half way around the world from them, my money was no good on this night. So often you would find my Dad at the end of the table pantomiming to Michelle and I, trying to ask if we needed another drink. There was a lot of “Three words? Sounds like… I, you, us???” Quickly realizing that as a family we really suck at charades, I made this extremely effective sign in the attempt to make things clearer,


It worked like a charm, and for the rest of the night whenever my glass was empty I would simply hold up the sign and more beer would appear.

Yes, I am fully aware I am living a charmed life. Please let me enjoy it while I can!

As the drinks flowed the Band played louder and louder and the night moved into full swing. At every German festival such as this that I’ve been to, the Band plays a large part in directing the merriment. One popular custom by the Band is to lead the crowd in a toast. As a traditional Oompah-pah song would come to a close the band would yell “Zigga Zagga, Zigga Zagga, Oi, Oi, Oi!” and the crowd would join in. Raising their glasses and standing on benches, toasting to friends, family, country and GOOD TIMES!

Prone to being wallflowers, it took a little persuading, but eventually I got my parents up on the benches.

Enter sarcasm……... HERE! My parents are ANYTHING but wallflowers. They love a good party and can often be found leading the chant, song, dance, toast… WHATEVER!


CHECK!!! At one point, my Dad hauled me onto the dance floor for a traditional German ditty. A word of advice to you all, dancing to Oompah-pah in heels it HARD! I’ve never felt so uncoordinated in my life. But it was okay, cause later I felt pretty,

OH SO PRETTY!! But not as pretty as this guy,

They had these cones all over the base. Blocking off areas guest were not allowed to roam. Somehow this guy got a hold of one and decided it would make a fantastic headpiece. I blame the giant mugs of delicious beer.

Finally, one of our group received this,

This is called a Lebkuchenherzen. They are very popular at German festivals and gathering. They are gifts between friends and lovers in order to express their feeling for one another. After receiving this one we checked with the Germans we were sitting near to verify what it said. We were told it had two meanings,

#1: The name for a dog


#2: The word for someone who has perpetual, unmanageable, sticking up everywhere bed head.

Okay... how is that a term of endearment you want to give your loved ones???

About seven years ago I attended this festival for the first time with my hubby who was then my fiancé. Here we are,

I can’t get over how young we were!! Anyway, he gave me a Lebkuchenherzen, and for the life of me I don’t remember what it said. But now I am starting to wonder…

I hope it said “I love you” and not “I guess you’re alright… for now”.

Off to Paris this weekend in search of delicious edible treats instead of inedible cookies with bizarre messages on them.

Au Revoir,



Dawn Doherty said...

Your Dad and Michelle look EXACTLY the same as the did the last time I saw them (probably about 11 years ago!)
Sounds like you're having a great time!! Enjoy Paris!!


Dawn said...

Sounds like you are having a GREAT time. I love reading your posts. Madeline looks great with bangs by the way. Miss our coffee play dates!!!Hsve fun in Paris.

Anonymous said...

MISS YOU GUYS SO MUCH! have fun in PARIS! fancy pants.
love you,
green eggs and ham.

Anonymous said...

awwwww i totally wish i was there to party with yous@ looked that you had an amazing time!

can't wait for the paris post!

Jessica Kane said...

ja ja JA!!!!
Ich liebe den Hut! sexy Kätzchen Sie!

jess :)

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