WATCH: Beer, lederhosen and ritualised communion at Oktoberfest

2018-10-19 04:54
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The Mayor has inserted the tap into the first keg and with blows of his hammer and the cry of "O'zapft is" — "It's tapped", Oktoberfest kicked off. More than 6 million visitors made their way to Munich for this, the 185th Oktoberfest this year.

Boasting numerous festival halls this year, visitors were be able to foist litre-sized steins of special Oktoberfest beer brewed by major Munich breweries.

Oktoberfest was first celebrated in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese and invited Munich's citizens to join the party on the Theresienwiesen ('Therese's meadow'), the fields in front of the then city gates.

Given the size of Oktoberfest, on some days as many 600 000 visitors turn up. The atmosphere is generally friendly and the number of disruptive incidents few. Traditional costumes are adorned by participants in the Oktoberfest parade.

PICS: Bill Clinton and 6 million others got their buzz on at this year's epic Oktoberfest in Munich

The traditional Bavarian clothes worn back then are worn to mark the occasion. Men wear leather shorts called 'lederhosen' and women don the 'dirndl', a dress with an old-fashioned bodice that can range from the austere to the rather revealing.

With the "Wiesn" (fair grounds) awash with the aromas of cotton candy and roasted almonds and the scent of barley and hops from all that beer, it is often quite simple to forget to wonder why all these soon-to-be bierleiche (beer corpse) would gather here and do things they'd never usually even dream of doing. 

Tradition, beer or just for the fun of it? Maybe. But perhaps it has a lot more to do with crowd psychology

Revellers at the event say they feel a sense of unity at the festival - that people of all nationalities and cultures coalesce in the space to enjoy beer. A local social psychologist, Brigitte Veiz, has spent decades studying just what happens to people inside of Oktoberfest. 

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"A homogeneous communion happens. They become a group of friends like a brotherhood so they celebrate together, they sing together and they come closer together as the evening goes by and this is what the ritual usually does; it brings people together in a communion." says Veiz

This ritualised togetherness triggers a neurological cascade of good feelings. One of the hormones that is released is the neurotransmitter oxytocin also known as the 'love hormone'. It is believed to play a role in feelings of intimacy, bonding and trust. 

Veiz notes that "people give up responsibility and they give up being an adult. You don't have to control yourself anymore and that's a big freedom for a lot of people just letting go by playing, drinking, eating, celebrating...you're free."   

Oktoberfest gives people the freedoms to be away from their daily controls. So next time you're looking to drink a lot of great beer and feel free look no further than Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. 

SEE: Mapped: Beer guide to popular pints and their prices across the globe

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