Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oktoberfest tradition in jeopardy

In Germany, Oktoberfest is one of the oldest and most traditional festivals around. Each year, thousands gather to celebrate their heritage and drink enormous amounts of beer.

One element of German heritage throughout the years has been the "Dirndl." The Dirndl is the lacy and often low-cut dress typically worn by women attending the Oktoberfest festival. Recent developments, however, have some German traditionalists cringing.

To open this years' festival, the wife of Bavarian Premier Guenther Beckstein showed up wearing something other than the classic Dirndl. Instead, she wore a suit. Cora Schumacher, wife of Michael Schumacher (a German racing hero), added insult to injury when she attended the festival wearing a skull-studded Dirndl.

Now, many Germans are crying foul. Wives of German politicians are expected to follow tradition (obviously that didn't happen). Locals were shocked at Mrs. Schumacher's outfit. The Dirndl is traditionally supposed to be a conservative outfit, despite it's low-cut design. Apparently skulls aren't conservative enough.

So what does all of this mean for Oktoberfest? It could mean rapid change in the future. If the attire is able to switch from traditional and conservative to modern and radical, what could potentially happen to the beer?

The bigger question at hand: why should American college students care about what German women are wearing to Oktoberfest? Well, if your one of those crazed fans of the movie "Beerfest" and you were hoping to go scope out some German girls on your next vacation, you should probably start changing your plans.

The bigger point here is that no festival or traditional gathering is safe from change and/or modernization. Think about an annual event you have attended on a yearly basis, maybe a fair or rock concert series. How would you feel if that rock concert changed into a jazz festival? Or, say, how would you feel if people started wearing Dirndls to that rock concert?

You'd probably be weirded out and upset. Just the way the Germans are.

No comments: