Oktoberfest Brings Out the Best Parts of Being German!
Our Gregorian calendar gives us 11 months of holidays to celebrate each year—the only month without one is August.
Au contraire! My birthday is in August, so that means I have some sort of celebration every month of the year! Ha!
Soon after my special holiday, it’s Fall, and the beginning of several prominent celebrations filled with family and traditions, starting with Oktoberfest. Though it isn’t technically a holiday, it’s a fun tradition that can be celebrated not only with family, but also a group of girlfriends. Germans have been celebrating it since 1810!
My mom, Edna was German. She was raised in a staunch German family of 5 kids on a farm in Chowchilla, California. According to her, the Strakbeins didn’t have many traditions or beliefs. She claimed her family was cold. There wasn’t any hugging or “I love yous”. Family game night was non-existent. Vacations were only a dream. I’m not sure if they honored Oktoberfest, but it sure seemed like they didn’t do much celebrating.
I did see the coldness of her family firsthand. When we were invited for dinner at Uncle Kenny and Aunt Judy’s home, Mom argued with her brother, Kenny every single time we were there. Same goes for her other two siblings, June and Ray. Constant arguments. Each one always needed to be right. No matter what, there always seemed to be a disconnect within their family.
Mom acted the same around me as she did with her brothers and sisters. Sure, sometimes she was nice, but most of the time she was gruff. She judged everyone. If she didn’t like one of my friends, she made it a point for me to know. If someone’s parents had a new car, then they were “rich”. If one of my friends had a lot of energy, they were “a pain in the ass”. If my friend looked pretty, she never complimented her. Growing up with a mom like her definitely had me walking on eggshells. These memories are why, for most of my childhood, I thought all Germans were naturally cold, unsmiling, argumentative, uncompassionate people. Mom was German, so that must be how all Germans were.
So, my memory of the German heritage may have been a bit tainted. It wasn’t until I went to my first Oktoberfest did I realize I was wrong! What a fun party Oktoberfest can be! Traditional German music, women in their classic dirndl dresses and men in their lederhosen, and the beer! Lots of beer to be consumed at these events. Of course, you know I snuck in my flask of tequila right!? I am not a beer drinking gal, but to watch others chug down a stein is impressive.
I decided years ago to reframe my ideas of what a German was like. I’ve learned to embrace the good stuff, one of which is celebrating Oktoberfest with my family and besties. I hope you can do the same. Gather your best girls and try out a fun, beer swillin’, bratwurst eatin’ event like the ones that I wish Edna’s family would have indulged in!
I love that you were with me today. See you tomorrow!