Oktoberfest celebrations have been going on for over 200 years and Miami's German Club was eager to add to that tradition last Thursday evening.
Traditionally, Oktoberfest is a two-week long folk festival held from late September to early October. It began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen that featured horse races, wine and beer tastings and children's performances.
Today Oktoberfest has expanded dramatically to become the largest festival in the world that, in addition to its many restaurant and brewery tents, features costume and rifle parades, amusement rides and the now-traditional Chicken Dance, or Der Ententanz.
Miami's own celebration was held in the backyard of Cincinnati's Oktoberfest, which draws over 500,000 people each year and is second only to the original Munich festival, in terms of size.
The German Club had a lot to live up to.
They feted new members, old members and unaffiliated German culture aficionados with root beer, hand-made soft pretzels and the music of Schoenberg in the German flag-draped room 224 in Irvin Hall.
It was the club's first meeting of the year and participants introduced themselves with their favorite aspect of German culture. Many were enthusiastic about Germany's uniquely illustrious collection of composers and notable literature, particularly Faust. Others mentioned the incredible specificity of the German language, especially regarding emotions. It is, after all, the language that gave us "schadenfreude" (happiness at the misfortune of others), "angst" (dread about the human condition) and "wanderlust" (the strong desire to travel). And all were vocal fans of German food.
Miami's German Club is a relatively young organization.
"There hasn't been a formal German club on campus that I know of," President Elianna Timmons said. "I know some students tried to make it before. I'm just glad that I was able to bring this club to Miami."
Thanks to the enthusiasm of Timmons and club treasurer, Jessica Bettridge, the club is expanding and expecting to offer some new events for this school year. In addition to continuing its popular "Kaffee im King" program, in which students and other Germanophiles have the opportunity to gather and practice speaking German in King Cafe, the club anticipates going on more trips this year.
"We hope to do some fun activities related to German culture in the future and possibly go on a trip to the historical village in Cincinnati," said Timmons. "They have beautiful Christmas markets in December."
Students discussed plans to celebrate the upcoming popular German holiday, St. Martin's Day, on Nov. 11 this year. The club contemplated observing the saint's day by making and releasing lanterns in a procession, as is popular among German schoolchildren. Students also talked of organizing a possible trip in March to hear the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra perform its German Masters program, featuring selections by Wagner and Bruckner.
Timmons pronounced the first meeting a success: "I am glad that so many people came and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves."
Future monthly German Club meetings will be announced on the Miami University German Club Facebook page.