Oktoberfest brings German traditions to Union community

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Students mingle around a table of donuts and pretzels in the Golub House lounge, while listening to authentic German music, during Oktoberfest this past weekend. Samantha Kruzshak | Concordiensis
Students mingle around a table of donuts and pretzels in the Golub House lounge, while listening to authentic German music, during Oktoberfest this past weekend. Samantha Kruzshak | Concordiensis

Oktoberfest, a traditional German celebration of music, beer and Autumn, was emulated this past Friday, October 21, through the efforts of German Club and the Golub House Council.

The event took place in the lounge of Golub House, where great numbers of students and staff swarmed the common area while enjoying food, music and socializing with friends and professors.

Participants over 21 years of age were allowed authentic dark and light beer, in a specialized pint glasses displaying the advertisement “Golub House Oktoberfest 2016.”

Participants gathered with friends around tall standing tables, each accompanied with a selection of donuts, or “Fastnachts” and pretzels, “Brezeln.” These snacks were only appetizers to the main course: a buffet consisting of bratwurst in hot dog buns and “Kartoffelsalat,” or potato salad. Prior to the event, the German club baked “Lebkuchenherzen,” which means gingerbread hearts. These cookies are typically sold and eaten at events like Oktoberfest or at German Christmas markets. The hearts were decorated with frosting, spelling out romantic or silly sayings.

A traditional “Oom-pah” band played German music dressed head to toe in “tracht”: traditional clothing.

This consisted of lederhosen get-up and a sunnerhat, which is a traditional alpine hat.

“Everyone always thinks of Oktoberfest as a big party. This shows the culture behind it all” says Gillian Henry ’17, president of the German Club, explaining the event’s main purpose of educating the campus community of German culture.

“We tried to emulate an authentic Oktoberfest,” explains Elina Dave ’19, member of the Golub House Council. “Golub house and its collaborators put in a lot of effort to make the event a success.”

In response to the quality of Union’s recreation of the traditional German event, Aline Galloppi, the German language Teaching Assistant, said, “As a German in America I started to feel slightly homesick, as the leaves were slowly starting to fall down and people were seen stretching out to enjoy the sunshine. However, it meant only one thing for me: it was time for Oktoberfest back home in Germany. This year I had my first Oktoberfest abroad and it was great. German songs made me feel at home, and I had a great time with my friends, while trying to talk in German language to everybody!”

To begin a series of lectures, faculty representative and liaison of Golub House and Thomas B. Lamont Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature Hans-Freudrich Otto Mueller stepped up to the microphone.

After introducing himself with the comment “I had to grow into a very weighty name,” Mueller provided anecdotes of his experience growing up with first generation German parents. Mueller recalled reading German texts with his father, who would translate the German language for him. Mueller also spoke of his memories of Christmas morning, where he would have to recite a German poem before opening his presents. Mueller had the audience laughing as he translated the poem into English.

To summarize his cultural history and its’ significance, Mueller ended his short lecture with the words: “Who are we at the end of the day? Fragments of stories. Fragments of culture.” Mueller proceeded to introduce Associate Professor of German, Michele Ricci Bell, who approached the microphone dressed in her traditional dirndl. Bell, who has a Ph.D. in German studies, provided the audience with the history of Oktoberfest.

In summary, Ricci Bell spoke of a wedding that took place in Munich on October 12, 1810, marrying the prince of Bavaria, Ludwig, to Princess Therese of Saxony. In celebration, the couple invited the townsfolk to celebrate on the meadow in front of Munich’s city gates. The event included racing and drinking. These activities were repeated the next year in honor of the prince and princess, and were named “Theresienwiese” after Princess Therese and the horse race. This event was soon to be renamed Oktoberfest, after the city of Munich took it over and shifted the date to late September, so that the weather would be warmer and people could drink more. Activities such as an agricultural fair, parades, beer tents, bratwurst, amusement rides and many more were added to the event over the years. Oktoberfest, Ricci Bell concluded, is now the biggest folk festival in the world, with over seven million people in attendance.

Attention shifted to Henry at the end of Ricci Bell’s lecture, who led a lesson on how to sing a traditional German drinking song. The song, named “Fliegerlied,” translates to “Flying song.” “Fliegerlied,” Gillian expounded, was a common children’s song that was eventually recommissioned as a famous drinking song.

Professor Ricci Bell of the German department comments: “The Oktoberfest was delightful! The tasty food, the music and company made for a really fun event. It was also wonderful to hear students and visitors sing the German Lieder (songs), led energetically by the German club members. Golub’s Council, Professor Mueller and everyone involved put together a great event!”

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