MUNICH- The Munich Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer and volks festival. If there is one word that first comes to mind when it comes to German culture, this one is at the very forefront. Established by King Ludwig I in 1810, the festival takes place from the middle of September until the first Sunday in October- a span of 16-18 days- attracting over 10 million visitors from around the world to the venue of the event, the Oide Wiesen.
In the 210 years the Oktoberfest has been running, it has been cancelled 24 times. The last one was in 1949 because of World War II and the reconstruction efforts in the American zone that followed.
Because of the Corona-Virus, make this year the 25th time the event has been called off.
Because of the high risk of infection and the inability to keep to the hygiene standards, Bavaria’s minister Markus Söder and Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter in a press conference has called off the event for this year. This is confirmed by German news channel NTV. Also the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing, which is the largest Volksfest in Bavaria and attracts 1.5 million visitors annually has been called off. Tat was supposed to take place on the second Friday in August.
At the time of this article,Bavarialeads the way in the number of Corona Virus cases, with 37,849 infected. Nationwide, Germany has a total of 147,065 cases. As many as 4862 residents have died of the virus, 1286 of them in the second most-populous state in the country. Over 2.48 million infected cases have been reported worldwide even though that number could be even higher. Germany has been gradually restarting its businesses and returning to normal but under certain circumstances. Mouth-masks are required by law (even in Bavaria) while in public. Distance between people at 1.5- 2 meters are still in place, travel by plane or train has been at a snail’s pace due to reduced numbers available. All in an attempt to keep the reproduction rate at below one person. Still it will take some time before a vaccination is created and adminstered to the population. Experts are predicting a timespan of 2-4 years before they can be available to the public. In the meantime, medication to treat Covid-19 have been made available but only partially. Tests are also being carried out to determine how immune people are to Corona. Yet, officials have made it clear that until a vaccination has been made available, restrictions will need to be kept in force to protect everybody from getting infected, for the virus not only targets the most vulnerable- the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, but also younger people, including the healthy.
And that will make it more difficult for organizers of the Oktoberfest to heed to the requirements for the next festival, which is scheduled to take place September 18th to October 3rd, 2021. Should the vaccination not be made available, visitors will have a difficult time keeping a distance from one another to avoid getting infected while at the same time, enjoy a big mug of beer, a pretzel and white sausages, the cornerstone of a nutritous meal at the Oide Wiesn. Yet Germans have learned to be creative when it comes to products made in Germany. After all, many of them have originated from the Oktoberfest. Perhaps some inventor will find the best of both worlds to solve this unique problem in time for the 2021 festival.
Prost und bleib gesund! 🙂
Here are the years where the Oktoberfest didn’t take place:
1813 because of the war against Napoleon
1866 War versus Prussia. A peace treaty on August 23rd didn’t hinder its cancellation that year.
1870 because of the War with France
1873 because of the Cholera Epidemic
1914 – 1918 World War II
1919/20 Fall Festival
1923/24 due to Inflation
1939 – 1945 because of World War II