Truth Well Drunk: Oktoberfest
Let’s start with the most important truth about Oktoberfest - at least most important for someone who grew up in Bavaria (a federal state of Germany) like me. Oktoberfest isn’t a happening all over Germany; it’s a Bavarian tradition, which has been held annually in Munich since 1810. Another (shocking!) truth - we don’t celebrate it in October. What? It actually happens in the last two weeks in September. The Bavarians are very good wheeler-dealers and since the weather in October is mostly cold and rainy, they simply re-scheduled the world’s biggest folks festival. Result: More than 6 million visitors from around the globe every year.
When it comes to beer, we have another unusual tradition – a Friday morning brunch called Frühschoppen. It is understood to be a specific kind of brunch held around 11am consisting of Weisswurst (white sausages), sweet mustard, pretzels, and Weissbier (an unfiltered wheat beer). Even big global companies like BMW or Siemens have this tradition. Truth well drunk. For the record, the goal isn’t to get drunk.
Back to Germany. Frühschoppen is like Oktoberfest, only it happens in Bavaria. But like many other traditions, other cities adopted a small version of it. Like our McCann offices in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin celebrate a little Oktoberfest in October – bizarrely to me, not in September. The culture from Bavaria to Hessen (Frankfurt) or North Rhine-Westphalia (Düsseldorf) is as different as living in New York vs. Los Angeles.
And what’s my experience as a Bavarian alien living in New York? The thing I needed to learn first was that the phrase “Let’s meet soon for drinks” doesn’t mean you actually meet soon for drinks - like it would be in Germany. I took it very seriously in the beginning. I was sending out invites and I getting a lot of declined invitations back. Another thing -- maybe we Germans are known as masters of efficiency, but here in New York, I’m impressed everyday by the attention to detail and the quality you can achieve when you have a bigger team. In Germany, it’s also a matter of budgets, which are significantly smaller than in the U.S.
And of course maybe the most important adjustment I had to make moving to the U.S: celebrating Oktoberfest in October.