October. My favorite month of the year.
It’s the month we get to free our scariest decorations from the darkness of our garages. A time where dressing like a whore is actually encouraged.
It’s a time for corn mazes and pumpkin picking and the infamous Snickers Halloween commercial (of which I can’t get enough of).
And it’s a time for drinking pumpkin spice beer and gorging on German food at Oktoberfest.
There are certain things to remember when attending Oktoberfest. Whether it’s the real deal in Munich, a city-run event or simply a gathering of your closest 100 friends in your backyard, the same tips apply when partaking in the festivities. The more experienced you become, the less likely you are to reject the traditions of this age-old festival. But for those newbies out there who’ve never experienced an Oktoberfest, here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.
Dressing the part is not required. But it’s certainly appreciated. You don’t have to dress up in German garb to be accepted or allowed into the event. No one is going to shun you for showing up in comfortable jeans and and a tee. But the more outrageous your outfit- especially in terms of authenticity- the more attention you’ll receive and the more fun you’ll have (not to mention all the free beers you’ll get). If you don’t already own the typical German outfit- which, unless you work at a German restaurant or bar, or you are the actual St. Pauli Girl, I highly doubt- don’t fret. Most Halloween stores carry plenty of Bavarian, Hansel & Gretel-type costumes that are reasonably priced and easy to throw on. Or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, you can fashion your own outfit from different articles of clothing you already own- just make sure you do your homework. Nothing worse than showing up to a German party wearing something out of The Sound of Music. Either way, dressing up is apart of the culture, and it’s always hilarious to see what you and others will show up wearing.
You must drink at least one beer. Even if you don’t like it. Beer is a major part of German culture, so don’t expect to find anything but beer if you go to a big event. Private gatherings might provide a variety of alcohol, but you still need to drink one beer- particularly a German kind- to earn the “right of passage.” After all, you certainly can’t drink a mixed drink from your stein, and if you attempt it, you will never be asked back again.
Eat food. A lot if it. Even if it looks weird or smells funny, you have to try one of everything. It’s an insult to reject food specific to the culture and country to which you are toasting, and you never know, you may surprise yourself and fall in love with a good piece of bratwurst or a creamy, air-whipped eclair (yes, the Germans have them, too). Don’t worry about eating too much, either. With the Germans (or any other European country), you can never eat too much food. You can always fast for the next month to make yourself feel better (although I’m sure there will be too many leftovers to accomplish that).
Most importantly, though, just remember to have a lot of fun. It doesn’t matter that you have to work the next day, or that your wife’s brother, who you can’t stand, is always hovering five feet away. For one whole day-or two weeks if you go to Germany- nothing else matters except immersing yourself in the culture and the festivities and living to tell the stories after (and there will be a lot of stories).
And when all else fails, just get drunk off beer and try and talk to people in German. It’s very difficult and quite entertaining to everyone around you, and who knows, maybe you’ll pass out and wake up German.
Although you’re more likely to wake up in a pool of your own vomit- or worse, someone else’s.