Oktoberfest Traditions and Sayings to Use at U.S. Festivals

Post Date August 24, 2015

Comments 1 comment Category Autumn/Fall, Oktoberfest, Party Planning Tags , , , , ,

Cities, churches, and clubs across the U.S. have annual Oktoberfest celebrations. But how much do you know about the real deal in Germany? Take a few minutes to learn about typical German Oktoberfest traditions and sayings. You might learn a few new facts you can incorporate into your local Oktoberfest celebrations or nearest beer hall.



Oktoberfest Tradition: Tapping the First Keg

The mayor of Munich typically taps the first keg and cries out “O’zapt ist!” (it is tapped) on the first day of Oktoberfest.

What YOU Can Do: Get YOUR mayor involved as the master ceremonies for your festivities.


Photo courtesy of Rufus46 via Wikimedia Commons.


Oktoberfest Tradition: Parade

A parade of over 7,000 (inlcuding marching bands, dancers, and animals) march for five miles in Munich.

What YOU Can Do: Have your own (smaller scale) parade—minus the animals!



Photo courtesy of Bernhard J. Scheuvens aka Bjs vis Wikimedia Commons.

Oktoberfest Tradition: Fair

Includes thrill rides, live performances, food stalls, game booths, and more.

What YOU Can Do: Set up your own fair/carnival. Size and rides, will depend upon your budget and space.



Oktoberfest Tradition: Music

Oktoberfest music includes wind music, yodeling, oom-pah-pah, and polka music.

What YOU Can Do: If you haven’t already planned on it, hire a polka band to perform during your Oktoberfest party.


Photo courtesy of Infrogmation of New Orleans. Wikimedia Commons.

Oktoberfest Tradition: Chicken Dance

The chicken dance is accompanied by an oom-pah-pah song and has been a part of Oktoberfest for over two decades.

What YOU Can Do: Kick off your Oktoberfest with a Chicken Dance. In fact, have one every hour on the hour!





Oktoberfest Tradition: Souvenirs

People leave Oktoberfest with souvenirs that include Bier Steins, t-shirts, gingerbread necklaces, and feathered alpine hats.

What YOU Can Do: Setup booths with bier steins, hats, buttons, and other Bavarian-themed souvenirs.



Oktoberfest Tradition: Bavarian Food

We’re just going to let this list speak for itself:

Pork knuckles

Grilled whitefish on a stick

Soft pretzels




What YOU Can Do: Make sure you offer all of the above for your hungry Oktoberfest guests! And don’t forget blue and white tableware.



Photo courtesy of "Masskrug" by senator86 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Oktoberfest Tradition: BEER

Do we really need to explain this?

What YOU Can Do: Keep plenty of beer on tap for your Oktoberfest, especially German beers!




Lederhosen (lay-der-hose-in): leather pants of varying lengths that men wear, usually with suspenders.


Noch Ein Bier, Bitte (nock ine beer bit-a): “another beer, please!”


Prost! (prōst): “cheers!”


Schunkeln (shoon-kulln): a dance that involves sitting on a long bench. Everyone locks arms and sways back and forth.


Zicke Zacke, Zick Zacke, Hoi Hoi Hoi (tsick-a tsack-a, tsick-a tsack-a, hoy, hoy, hoy): the master of ceremonies says this throughout night. Often followed by a swig of beer.



Use the above ideas to plan your local Oktoberfest party!

By the time you’re done, you will have everybody, including the mayor, doing the Schunkeln and having a blast.