Oktoberfest, And Other Missed Opportunities

Oktoberfest isn’t even in October. OK, part of it is, at the end, for about a week or a bit less. In fact it’s a 16-day celebration ending on the first Sunday in October, unless the first Sunday happens to be October 1 or 2, then the festival will last until October 3, German Unity Day (a day marking German re-unification after the Cold War). Thus we have a celebration marking the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 18, 1810; a 16 day festival, which is sometimes 18 days long, and most of it is celebrated in September.

I’m confused.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I have never seemed to do anything for to mark this occasion – or series of occasions – is that I always started trying to find out when it would be on after it was over. In many ways this thing has got me written all over it. I quite like beer and it’s a beer event, I like German food a great deal and that’s a big part of the thing too, I can trace ancestry to this part of Germany, and I think the style of eating and drinking – large quantities, no table manners, get dirty in the cause of feeding your face – best suits my own sometimes barbarous table persona. I was going to write table manners, but that just wouldn’t be right, for the most part. Laetitia once told me that it was an often disgusting, and not a little embarrassing, thing to have to watch me eat. That was confronting, but probably true. My defence is that when it absolutely counts, I can restrain myself and not get sauce everywhere, and not drop chunks of meat into bowls for dipping, and not try to ram huge forkfuls into my already greasy mouth. It’s like a little kid eating, when it’s bad like that: I’m almost too excited and hungry to impose proper adult rules on my conduct.

But Oktoberfest isn’t the only calendar date I routinely miss or don’t mark properly. St. Patrick’s Day almost passed me by completely this year, as it has for a decade and more. I was honestly trying to think who I knew who was born on March 17 (as it happens I do know someone, and didn’t acknowledge her day, which I just realised then – double damn!). When I realised, I bought a bottle of Guinness and drank it. Rather a weak acknowledgement of the feast day of the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland, and gave everyone with even the most tenuous connection to that country an excuse to drink heavily at least once a year. As it happens, I also have Irish forebears, and would very much like one year to have a proper Irish cuisine meal for lunch or dinner and really enjoy it.

Easter – I don’t do much.

Anzac Day – usually not much either. Once went to the march, saw a war film (Kokoda), and went to the races and the footy. That was fun.

And obviously Halloween isn’t a big thing for me, as I’ve grown up that way. Many people of my generation in Australia would probably tell anyone who came calling for a spot of trick or treat on that night to get lost. We don’t do that around here. And it doesn’t matter how cute your kids are in their costumes. But Halloween could be something enjoyable, maybe, if we gave it a go.

Increasingly, writing this, I’m thinking that the calendar needs to be carefully perused in early January, and all occasions, festivals, feasts, and other events should be circled. It’s the only way. Then we can eat Indian curry on India’s national day and Sri Lankan curry on their day (I like curry). That way we won’t forget anything … or at least I won’t. Jewish food and Greek food and firecrackers and throwing dye at each other, and all sorts of fun and games – they are all there waiting, if only people, like me, were organised enough to not miss them.

A special Bastille Day meal is a must this year.


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