Oktoberfest: The Celebration of a Marriage

ludwig-theresaSurely many people think of June as the month to marry, but those seeking to escape the summer swelter, and the ever growing cost of the wedding industry’s favorite time of year, are turning to autumn as the season of the “little wedding.” I doubt that cost was a consideration when Crown Prince Ludwig chose to marry Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12th 1810, as the guest list for their reception included the entire citizenry of München and included horse races. This was, of course the beginning of Oktoberfest.


My local cafe has an Oktoberfest every year. In addition the usual um-pah bands that play in the dining room this year was extra special because for the first time the chef was a German.  Every year I put together a little play list so that they might have some traditional Trachtenleider. Some of my favorites from this year’s play list are: Wer kennt den Weg, Hab ich das Recht, Sie liebt dich, and Downtown. These are not what the Germans would call schlager or “hits” played by sound-a-like cover bands but rather these are the original songs sung by Johnny Cash, The Honeycombs, The Beatles, and Petula Clark in German for the German market in the same way that Dorfrocker tried to make it in the US market with last year’s hit:

Portrait of Mark Schultz and Erich Erving by Keliy Anderson-Staley

Portrait of Mark Schultz and Erich Erving by Keliy Anderson-Staley

I’m well aware that Oktoberfest is finished for another year. My husband and I have just celebrated our paper anniversary. To do so we returned to our honeymoon destination: Niagara Falls. (Perhaps the paper was the ticket, or the notebook I bought Mark while we were there.) I attempted to write this post on the train going up to the  Red Coach Inn, but the connection on Amtrak was poor at best, so my post comes a bit after the fact. When I started planning my wedding, about 2 years ago, I wanted to be married on Saints Serge and Bacchus Day, October 7th. For a variety of reasons I was married on the the day before Saints Serge and Bacchus: October 6th 2012. Although cutting costs was not the first thing on my mind when selecting the date for the wedding it was certainly a fortuitous coincidence that Autumn weddings are usually less expensive than those held in the late Spring and Summer. Likewise the fairly Oktoberfestive theme at our reception was coincidence. There was no um-pah band, no trachten, no steins the size of your head, but there was a feeling of gemütlichkeit as guests ate at long tables with red (rather than Bavarian blue) and white, checked tablecloths in the banquet hall of the Columbia University, Gould-Remmer Boathouse; complete with aged wood paneling a fireplace that a child could stand in and a dear’s head over the mantle, feeling very much like a beer hall. The seating was informal and inadequate so people had to keep moving, mixing and mingling.  The music was not amplified so that people could have a conversation.

Gould Boathouse of Columbia University on the Harlem River by Spuyten DuyvilExcept for a few sporadic years due to cholera, war, or post-Great War inflation the anniversary of the marriage of Prince Ludwig (King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen has been celebrated by all of München ever since 1810. That’s way more than a Diamond anniversary.

So, how do you spell gemütlichkeit?


One thought on “Oktoberfest: The Celebration of a Marriage

  1. Pingback: An Other New Year Has Begun | Uncle Frog

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