Oktoberfest is widely known to have originated from the royal wedding event between then Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The wedding took place on October 12, 1810, and the celebration was held in a field outside of the city gates. The merry-making lasted for five days in which beer estimated at one million gallons, plus 40,000 chickens and 80,000 pork sausages, were served to 40,000 citizens of Munich, Bavaria.
Delving into the origins of this world-renowned festivity entails looking into Germany’s culture and traditions as well. Let’s first focus on the German people’s love for fairy tales, since it is home to the Brothers Grimm, authors of well-loved happy-ending stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.
Weddings, as we know them, have always been the culmination of enchanting stories about love, in which the main characters lived “happily ever-after". Hence, the people of Munich must have been truly overjoyed by the union between their crown prince and a beautiful princess who was then famous as one of the fairest among the princesses in Europe at that time.
It was indeed a time to be joyful in an era in which the Napoleonic wars in Europe had brought Prince Ludwig’s father, King Maximilian I, to the throne as the first King of Bavaria. It was a title granted by the French Emperor in exchange for Bavaria’s support and allegiance, through the “Treaty of Pressburg" in 1806. Aside from the title, Napoleon awarded King Maximilian I with more territories to add to his kingdom. The ploy saved Bavaria from the devastation of going to war against Napoleon, which stood in contrast to the fates suffered by Austria and Germany.
Princess Therese belonged to the House of Saxe-Hildburghausen, which ended along with the fall of the German Empire in 1806. The union of the crown prince and the princess of the fallen duchy, had somehow, preserved the German territories as Bavarian-German, instead of being included among the German-French conquests.