Oktoberfest has been running since 1810, and is a massive part of Bavarian culture. The festival originally ran for 16 days, with he first Sunday in October as its last day. Since 1994 though, the festival has been slightly modified: German Unity Day is October 3rd, so if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, the festival is extended to include the 3rd - meaning in some years it can stretch to 18 days of fun!
Oktoberfest is not only about Bavarian beer; it's also the world's largest funfair and often attracts more than 6 million visitors from around the globe. In 2007 almost 7 million litres of beer were served during the festival. And as well as the traditional beer and amazing funfair, there are also lots of stalls and games. And, of course, famous traditional German foods such as roast chicken and pork, ham hock, dumplings, Sauerkraut, potato pancakes, cheese noodles and of course Wurst (sausages) and pretzels. Since 1950, the festival has been opened by a 12-gun salute as the mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer.
As well as drinking beer, enjoying traditional German food, and experiencing the funfair, there is a great tradition of wearing traditional German clothing throughout the festival, with men wearing lederhosen and Sennerhut (a traditional hat) and women in Dirndl. Visitors will often wear a traditional Bavarian hat which has a tuft of goat hair. In Germany, goat hair is traditionally highly valuable and hard to obtain - so in days gone by, having more goat hair on your hat denoted more wealth and social status. These days though, you can buy synthetic goat hair - so we can all pretend we're wealthy!
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