Traditionally, royalty generally allow the peasants to celebrate weddings and coronations, sometimes even providing food or drink or amnesty or whatever they deem appropriate.
So when Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (the First, not Mad Ludwig II) married his second wife – Princess Theresa of Saxony-something – in 1810, he authorized a party, a parade and a horse race. The event was called an Oktoberfest.
Too bad the Bavarian royals didn’t copyright the name – the marks would be pouring in. But it’s unlikely they’d have imagined people would still be celebrating Ludwig’s marriage 200 years later with an 18-day bender that begins in September and ends before the weather gets bad.
It’s a collective drunk that requires the presence of nearly a hundred doctors and nurses because drinkers forget Oktoberfest beer is stronger than usual and so drinkers pass out more often – and it requires, for the same reason, a substantial Munich police presence for those who stay on their feet.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, Oktoberfest involved a lot of dancing, skittles-playing and tree-climbing contests, but organizers decided they needed more room for drinking, so the space was turned over to giant beer tents. The horse races lasted until 196o, however.
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Luciano Pavarotti was born on this date in 1935 and what a gift for our time. Comparisons are indeed odious, but to understand the genius of Pavarotti, it helps to hear the wonderful Juan Diego Flores do an excellent job with the nine – nine! – high Cs in Donizetti’s ‘Daughter of the Regiment,’ followed by Pavarotti singing the same: