Oktoberfest – traditional Lederhosen, lots of Weißwurst and enough beer to satisfy the entire country. It’s the stuff German dreams are made of.
If you’re planning on making your way to the peculiar land of Bavaria this year for an excuse to indulge in heavy bretzel-eating and moderate beer-sipping, or to simply have a fun family day out, you’ll definitely need a specialised German phrasebook – a guide that’ll help you survive the madness that’ll be Munich’s 2019 edition of Oktoberfest.
Well, look no further than this page: we at Busuu have created one, just for you!
Things to know before you go
Showing off a few cultural facts will make your trip to Bavaria a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Plus, it’s a great way to impress friends and locals with insider knowledge about the festival and the German language.
While diving into the festivities in true Bavarian style…
- Remember that the first Oktoberfest took place to celebrate the wedding of Princess Therese and Prince (later King) Ludwig in 1810, not to celebrate beer.
- Know that the fest runs for 16-18 days, ending on the first Sunday in October.
- Say die Wiesn, instead of Oktoberfest.
- Call Munich Minga instead of München.
- Appreciate the Oide Wiesn, the most traditional part of the festival grounds, with a traditional vintage look. There, you can enjoy brass and folk music, take to the floor, and laugh at one of the many traditional puppet theatre shows onsite.
- Wear traditional costumes called Tracht, that consist of Lederhosen and Dirndl.
- Pay attention to the apron of their Dirndl. Know that the side on which they wear the bow used to indicate a woman’s marital status: bow to the right means involved or married, bow to the left means single, bow at the back means widow. Be a real Bavarian and wear it at the front to say “none of your business”.
- Wear Tracht when you go into the beer halls, so or you won’t be outed as a tourist right away.
And last but not least, every Bavarian knows that nobody actually says “Happy Oktoberfest” in German. Erase that from your memory. Instead, have a go at learning the following expressions.
Made it to Munich? Whip out this German phrasebook for guidance
Servus and Griasde (“hello”)
These are the greeting most commonly used at Oktoberfest. Imprint them on your brain… or your Lederhosen.
Danggschee (“thank you”) and Bidschee (“please”)
Bavarians are friendly folk, so remember to always say danggschee (“thank you”) – and bidschee (“please” or “you’re welcome”).
Pfiat eich good (“goodbye”)
Time to go? Pfiat eich good – and Auf boid (“see you”), if you want to mix it up a bit – will easily roll off the tongue after the first beer.
O’zapft is (“It’s tapped”)
On opening day, festivities kick off at Schottenhamel tent, where the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg in as few throws as possible, calling out o’zapft is (“it’s tapped”) once done. Beer is only served after the opening ceremony.
I häd gean a Mass, bidschee (“I’d like a Mass, please”)
A Mass is the big beer stein, containing one litre of beer. To order one, say: I häd gean a Mass, bidschee (“I’d like a Mass, please”).
Wiesnbier (“Oktoberfest beer”)
Wiesnbier (“Oktoberfest beer”) is strong. And when I say strong, I mean really strong. The real Bavarian enjoys it (more or less) responsibly in one of the many beer tents or gardens.
Noagerl (the last bit of beer in the glass)
Fun fact: the so-called Noagerl is about a finger-width of beer you should leave in the glass, unless your waiter or waitress is nowhere to be seen and you’re at risk of dehydration.
Prosit or Proscht (“cheers”)
Can you believe that each year, over 6.3 million people visit the Oktoberfest grounds, and more than 6 million litres of beer get drunk? You’ll get to clink glasses a fair bit. Call out Prosit or Proscht (“cheers”), and lift your Mass – with one hand, of course, like a real Bavarian.
Some Oktoberfest 2019 agenda recommendations
Now that you’re fluent in Oktoberfest 2019 speak, here are a few things you absolutely must do when you’re in the thick of it:
Take an official Oktoberfest tour
They’re a great way of starting your day and learning much more about the festivities than what’s shown on TV.
Try traditional German food
The time is now. There’s no better place than the Oktoberfest to try mouthwatering specialities.
Order a hoibs Hendl (a grilled half-chicken), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles similar to macaroni cheese), or a Vorspeisenbrettl (a mixed platter with deli meats, obatzda, lard and bread).
Treat yourself to a gingerbread heart
Not only do they look lovely, but they come with sweet messages (pun intended) and are an absolute must-try during Oktoberfest.
Even if it’s just a simple Servus to say hello, making an effort to get the basics down will help you immerse yourself in the real Bavarian Oktoberfest experience this year – and, ultimately, have even more fun.
Even if you’ve practised your German pronunciation to perfection and have memorised all the travel phrases you will need, chances are you still won’t understand anyone at Oktoberfest.
Don’t worry, though – you’re not the only one!
Even Germans from other parts of the country struggle to understand the Bavarian dialect.
But after making friends over a Mass or two, I promise your unfamiliarity with Bavarian speak won’t matter to anyone.
Thinking of picking up more German than you’ll need at Oktoberfest 2019?
Start learning German in 10 minutes a day with Busuu.