The Wiesn – Instructions Eat, drink, behave, love
If this is your first time at the Oktoberfest in Munich, you will encounter a variety of bizarre traditions. With our „Wiesn-Instructions“ we’ll try and help you to make the most of your stay at the Oktoberfest. In the following we are going to explain some typical phrases, traditions and customs that simply belong to the Oktoberfest, the biggest fair of the world. Be prepared for the Oktoberfest 2017 – Eat, behave, love!
An Oktoberfest without the traditional “Breze” is simply unimaginable. A “Breze” basically is a pretzel. While the Oktoberfest takes place it comes in two sizes: in standard bakeries you’ll get the traditional small pretzels, which are hand sized. At the Oktoberfest and in most beer gardens you’re also able to acquire giant pretzels, in german “Riesenbrezen”. Together with a Mass of beer and some roasted chicken, the giant pretzel is the preferred beer-festival fare of most Bavarians.
At the Oktoberfest beer is only available in the famous Bavarian one-litre glasses, called a Mass. Local breweries usually create alternative versions of their standard beer sorts to celebrate the “Wiesn”-time. These special beers often contain a higher percentage of alcohol than the usual ones.
A “Hendl” is the Bavarian expression that stands for the English term grilled chicken. It is served all over the Oktoberfest. To get the full experience try it with beer and a “Breze”.
“Steckerlfisch” is mostly a Bavarian and Austrian dish. It is made out of grilled fish (usually a mackerel) on a stick. The Bavarian translation of stick is “Steckerl”. Steckerlfisch as well as a Hendl are served in beer gardens and at fairs and are usually accompanied by beer and a pretzel. Traditionally the fishes served were caught in local rivers and lakes.
Maß / Maßkrug (= beer stein)
In Bavaria people drink beer out of a Maßkrug. This is a giant glass that holds up to one litre of fluid. As no smaller glasses are provided you ought to drink the beer out of the beer stein. You want to sound as local as possible while ordering your beverage? Simply say “A Maß, bittschön” while addressing the waitress.
The “Noagerl” is a Bavarian expression and refers to the last gulps of beer left in a beer stein. Usually these have been left for too long in the glass and therefore are warm and no longer drinkable or enjoyable. When using the term “Noagerl” you’re signifying that the waitress should take the beer stein including the last bits of beer away.
Prost is the traditional Bavarian toast. When the band starts playing the song “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” you’re expected to chink the glasses with the people around you and say “Prost!”. While doing so you should under all circumstances lock eyes with the person you’re chinking with. Same behaviour is adopted concerning the tune “Oans, zwoa, g’suffa!” (One, two, get sozzled!).
Warning: Prost has nothing to do with Brust (breast) although the two terms sound similar in German.
Anbandeln (= to flirt with)
After drinking its first Mass of beer the standard Oktoberfest visitor usually begins to loosen up and starts flirting. If you’re trying to give your best impression it might be advised to hand over a “Lebkuchenherz”(a heart-shaped gingerbread) to your beloved.
Dirndl is the traditional Bavarian dress for women. The word Dirndl has its origins in the old Bavarian language and means girl or maiden.
Lederhosen (= leather trousers)
Lederhosen are an essential part of the men's traditional clothing in Bavaria.
They are available in different length and styles although the one at knee-length is definitely the most common one. If you want to dress properly you ought to combine your Lederhosen with a white shirt, knee highs and special shoes, so called “Haferlschuhe”.
Trachtenumzug (= traditional costume procession)
On the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest the traditional costume parade takes place throughout the inner city. Those participating usually are bands, costume societies and folk clubs.
“Wiesn” is the Bavarian way of addressing the Oktoberfest. It stems from the name Theresienwiese, the name of the place where the beer festival takes place annually. If you’re translating “Wiesn” into English it means meadow.
Wegen Überfüllung geschlossen (= closed due to over crowding)
This phrase basically symbolizes the biggest nightmare for every Oktoberfest fan. If this sign is attached to the doors of a tent there are no vacant tables left, meaning that no more new guests are allowed to enter the tent. Unfortunately neither polite words nor flattery will persuade any of the massive bouncers to make an exception just for you. The tent is ultimately closed due to overcrowding.
“Bieseln” is the Bavarian equivalent for urination. In order to avoid fining you should definitely attend assigned public toilet areas.
Zelt (= tent)
At the Oktoberfest, there are 14 big tents and some smaller ones. There is a basic rule: The bigger the tent, the merrier the crowd. The largest tent offers up to 9000 places. The final call to order beer takes place at 10:30 pm. After that the tents are closed at 11:00 pm.
Busserl (= kiss)
To give or get a “Busserl” is an international sign to demonstrate your love. But please remember to ask the person involved, if he or she likes one.
Many stalls at the Oktoberfest sell gingerbread hearts. Normally these are decorated with colourful icing by hand. You give a “Herzl” to someone else as a sign of attention. Depending on the degree of affection you can either choose hearts with “Spatzerl” or “Schatzerl” (darling, little treasure) written on them, or “I mog di” (I love you) if your emotions are deeper than usual. If you’re searching for a souvenir to present to your family back home, why not choose a “Grüße aus München” (Greetings from Munich) gingerbread.
Pro Tipp: Do not eat your “Herzl”. It definitely is a wonderful keepsake.
The ribbon of a Dirndl is more than just a cute accessory. It is an essential part of the traditional Bavarian clothing for women and tells you more about the one wearing it than you might imagine. Check the ribbon before you start any advances towards the girl or woman in order to avoid unnecessary trouble. If the ribbon is tied at the left side of the dress, the woman is single and may be open for a flirt. However if the ribbon is tied on the left side you should be careful. Her boyfriend, fiancé or husband might just be around the corner.