Up until the Oktoberfest season, there wasn’t much that allowed us to revisit the culture we’d grown to know and love in Austria. We’d ignored any traditions that we developed abroad and immersed ourselves back into life in the US. Never looking back. It was what we needed to do in order to re-acclimate into this American life.
While we were so focused on living in the moment here, we never had the chance to miss the world we left behind.
But when September was upon us, and it was time to drink beer and be merry, we were certainly up for the challenge. It was time to live like the Germans do, and embrace the world of Oktoberfest, with a USA twist.
Our Oktoberfest Haus Party
After months…and months…and MONTHS of unpacking, sorting, decorating, and organizing, our little historic home in Pennsylvania was FINALLY complete. Pictures were hung, most things had a place. Piles of ‘stuff’ came together to form a functional, cozy and full-of-character living space.
Now it was time to share our new home with all of our friends. And since it just happened to be the Oktoberfest season, we decided to throw our very own Zipperle Oktoberfest – in the USA.
To clarify, this was not your average Oktoberfest imitation. Ours was as authentic as we could make it. I’m talking pretzels, strudel and cookies from the German baker. Bratwurst and cheese sausage (our attempt at Kasekrainer) from a butcher. German potato salad, beer cheese and of course…Hofbrau, in true Oktoberfest spirit.
With dirndls and lederhosen as the dress code and only German or Austrian music (of all genres) to dance to, it was a guaranteed good time. We even bought a giant tree trunk, nails, and hammer to play Hammerschlagen – one of our favorite Austrian party games.
For weeks we prepared, just to make sure this Oktoberfest would be a success and make us feel a little more at home. Like we didn’t have to leave Austria behind in this new world we created for ourselves.
And it couldn’t have gone any better. We had the best and most festive time! Oktoberfest traditions were alive in the Zipperle household. For one night, it was like our 2 glorious worlds were one.
Oktoberfest in Delaware
Flash forward to next weekend where we attended the Delaware Sangerbund Oktoberfest. This was the first time we attended an Oktoberfest in the USA, so we weren’t sure what to expect. But it honestly blew us away.
People went full lederhosen and dirndl for the occasion (including us, of course). There were all sorts of German foods and beer. There was music and traditional dancing and everyone was prosting merrily, as they should.
To top it off, we also attended the festivities with the same friends that accompanied us to Munich’s Oktoberfest just 2 years ago. It brought back SO many amazing memories and laughs. Our smiles were genuine and our hearts were full. And once again, our 2 worlds had become one.
But now the season is coming to an end.
We found every occasion to wear our outfits. We ate so many sausages and drank so many liters of beer. Pretzels were consumed by the minute. The feeling was amazing – and we expected nothing less. A feeling we weren’t expecting, however, was the touch of sadness that followed.
The Struggle of Revisiting of Our Lives Abroad
We were not prepared for the emotions that resulted from celebrating Oktoberfest in the USA. And even though the happiness far outweighed any other feeling, we can’t ignore the fact that it did make us a little sad.
For weeks, we planned our Oktoberfest party, and while doing so, we fully immersed ourselves back into our lives in Austria. From searching for music videos in German with traditional Austrian and German folk singers and musicians. Looking up German and Austrian recipes, dusting off our ‘hosen, chatting with the German baker.
This was the first time we revisited our old life, and all the normal things we’d grown so accustomed to seeing, hearing and eating in Austria. It was the first time we truly brought that life here, into our new surroundings.
The same holds true for attending Oktoberfest in Delaware. As we wandered around the festival, we were ALL smiles. Watching the traditional dancing, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. We missed this. A lot.
We’d become so good at living in the moment and embracing THIS world, that we had to ignore the world we left 9 months ago. Bringing that back to life was a joy and something that made us very happy, but it also made us miss what we once considered so normal abroad.
We missed the language, the traditions, the music, the food, the light-heartedness constantly filling the air.
We turned our new American home into a mini Austrian getaway, attended the most authentic Oktoberfest we could find close by. And yes, it stirred up a lot of incredible memories, but then it was all over. Back to normal. The season started and it ended.
Whereas in Austria, you could find a traditional festival ANY day of the week or simply go to the grocery store in your lederhosen without anyone thinking anything of it (hmm…maybe we should do that?) We heard the language constantly, smelled the foods literally everywhere.
This was the first time we fully realized just how much we missed our old ‘normal’. In Austria, we honestly felt the spirit of Oktoberfest on most days of the week. Here, we’ll have to create our own Oktoberfest and spread the spirit to others.
So that’s just what we’ll do.
The Beauty in New Traditions
Aside from looking back with a sigh, looking forward with excitement overpowered it all.
Here we were, in our new home, with our closest friends, giving them a piece of our lives in Austria. Allowing them to experience so many things we loved about living there.
Sharing this experience them was one of the most fulfilling moments of all time. Sure, they came to our party and had a great time, but I don’t think they realized just how much this party and these celebrations did for us.
They allowed us to reconnect with our greatest adventure to date and proved to us that we can combine our worlds. We don’t have to set living abroad aside to survive and thrive here.
The very best part of it all is finding these moments and turning them into new traditions. Both our Haus Oktoberfest AND Delaware’s Oktoberfest are now two annual traditions that we’ll continue to celebrate and uphold for years to come.
We’ve taken a little piece of Austria and brought it to the USA. We combined our 2 worlds, bringing them together with great friends, in the most magical of ways. And that is one of our most rewarding post-expat moments of all.