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When many military personnel are notified that they have been selected for a posting abroad, they can be excited about a variety of things, such as the prospect of traveling and experiencing a new culture.

Sadly, COVID-19 has dampened some of that excitement and limited opportunities to truly experience the country they currently reside in. This is true for some at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where servicemen who have made a permanent change of station may have missed out on the chance to experience an authentic Oktoberfest.

While many Americans may be excited to attend the annual festival, they may not be familiar with the story behind it and how it became the known event today.

The Oktoberfest originated in Munich with the wedding of Louis I, the future King of Bavaria, and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, where the celebrations lasted for five days. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the royal wedding, participate in the festivities and attend the horse races.

According to the Munich city’s website, www.muenchen.de, the celebration was so popular that it was resumed the following year and also included an agricultural fair. Many new additions were made over the following years, including horse races and food and drink vendors. These vendors eventually moved to breweries in the 20th century.

Today, Oktoberfest celebrations around the world pay homage to the Munich Oktoberfest. The festival is traditionally a 17-18 day celebration, ending on the first Sunday in October. Since 1950, the mayor of Munich has kicked off the festival by tapping a keg.

The Oktoberfest in recent years has attracted six million visitors, including Germans and other tourists, and around two million gallons of beer.

For more information on Oktoberfest, visit www.oktoberfest.de.

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