Word of the Week: Wiesn

Sep 26, 2014

Wiesn Enlarge image (© picture-alliance) Are you going to Oktoberfest or to the Wiesn? Well, if you're going to one, you're also going to the other: the word Wiesn is basically a synonym for Oktoberfest!

If you're hanging out with locals in Munich right know, you've probably heard them talk about the Wiesn. The term is an abbreviation for the Theresienwiese ("Theresa's field"), which is the location at which Oktoberfest is held each year in Munich. Therese is a name and Wiese is the German word for "field" or "meadow".

The Theresienwiese is a 4,500,000-square foot open space in Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt, a borough of Munich. Although it is now a large concrete space, it was formerly a lush meadow. 

Wiesn Enlarge image (© picture-alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv) The space was named after Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who was the wife of Prince Ludwig I. The two were married at the Theresienwiese on October 12, 1810 and invited the city's common people for five days of celebrations. Forty-thousand people came to the festivities, and the newlyweds decided to throw an anniversary party at the Wiesn the following year. The first celebration included events such as horse races and an agricultural show. Over time, carousels, games and races were incorporated, and by 1908, the yearly event boasted its first rollercoaster. Beer and food stands helped to keep the party going, and beer tents were gradually incorporated into the fairgrounds.

The festivities became an annual event and continued long after the deaths of the prince and princess, evolving into what we now know as Oktoberfest - a celebration of German beer and culture. But while Americans know the festival as Oktoberfest, locals will more often call it the Wiesn. So if you want to speak like a German, tell your friends that you're headed to the Wiesn this year!

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

Oktoberfest waitress © picture-alliance/ dpa

Oktoberfest: What You Need to Know About the World's Largest Festival

It's back: the highly-anticipated Oktoberfest opens up on Saturday, September 17. More than 6 million people will once again race to the world’s largest fair to celebrate Bavarian beer and culture.  So throw on your Lederhosen and get ready for the Wiesn! Prost!

© Germany.info

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