Das Beste Oktoberfest Yet!
It’s almost das beste time of the year! An entire weekend dedicated to beer, food, and music. It’s a welcome back to college students and a socially acceptable opportunity for a bender.
Apparently, Oktoberfest isn’t just about drinking, nor does it have anything to do with college kids… in that case, I’m not so sure why they chose the 22-year-old fresh graduate to write this article but if college taught me one thing- it’s how to Google.
It turns out Oktoberfest is a German festival (I did know that one! Prost!) that originated as a celebration of the marriage of the prince of Bavaria. Over the years the festival grew and is now celebrated around the U.S. as well. The focus on beer and German food represents the sense of gemütlichkeit, which is a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer.
All jokes aside, Oktoberfest really is so much more than just drinking. When I was young, I would go to the Oktoberfest parade every year with my family and sit in the same spot on the hill. I would pack a pizza Lunchables and a Sunny D, put on a garland tiara, and grab as much candy as I could. It was something I looked forward to every year as a chance to listen to school bands, enjoy the fresh fall air, and see the giant shopping cart.
Don’t worry, the occasional beer for the celebration is a-okay, but I challenge you to view this Oktoberfest as so much more. The U.S. Surgeon General just released a 2023 report titled, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. The report describes loneliness as a result of an unmet need from a preferred vs. actual experience. This means that maybe your ideal Oktoberfest Saturday consists of participating in the Maple Leaf Walk Run then enjoying the Maple Leaf Parade followed by a nice lunch with some friends, listening to some music and then being home by 5pm. Instead, however, you go to the parade followed by drinking as much beer as your friends are, your home by 1 a.m. and wake up with a hangover. While you were with friends, your need for your preferred experience was not met, and it could leave you feeling dissatisfied with your relationships and connections.
It may not seem like a big deal, but the Surgeon General’s 2023 report states that, “lacking social connection can increase the risk for premature death as much as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day”. Social connection is a human need, just like food and water. Think about our ancestors – would they have survived on their own? Or did they constantly rely on each other for food, safety, and other needs? Connection is necessary for survival. So, while overindulging in alcoholic beverages may not be the healthiest practice and may leave you dissatisfied, connecting with friends and family, laughing at the two guys with a banner, dancing to the music, and having good cheer this Oktoberfest is great for your soul and your health.
I wouldn’t be doing my job as a health educator, however, if I didn’t offer some tips for practicing self-care and good health over the weekend.
- Set boundaries/limits with yourself and with the people you’re surrounded by. Make a plan for how you’re getting home- have a buddy system, a designated driver, or an Uber planned out ahead of time.
- Alternate with water. I know, I know it’s a tip that’s older than me. But believe it or not I’ve done this, and it actually helps! For extra points, add some electrolytes (and no, pickle juice in your Bloody Mary doesn’t count).
- Food: For those of you who enjoy a few drinks, make sure you’re eating something too. For those of you who go for the food, check in with yourself and stop when you’re almost full, not when you must unbutton your pants. Either way, enjoy, maybe try to eat a vegetable (the celery in your bloody counts this time!), and don’t feel guilty when the day is done.
- And lastly, I wouldn’t be my parents’ daughter if I didn’t tell you to always be safe and make good choices.
Other Activities to Enjoy
- Carnival Rides and Vendors – Thursday and Friday 4-9pm; Saturday 12-9pm at Copeland Park
- Torchlight Parade – Thursday at 7pm
- Lederhosen Games – Thursday 5-7pm, Friday and Saturday 2-4pm
- YMCA Maple Leaf Walk Run – Saturday 7am
- Maple Leaf Parade – Saturday 10am
- Oktoberfest Medallion Hunt – Started Monday the 18th
Visit Events – Oktoberfest U.S.A. – La Crosse, Wisconsin (oktoberfestusa.com) for more information.
Prioritize you and your health this Oktoberfest and make it das beste one yet!
ViaroHealth Health Education Specialist
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