With its beginnings predating the Roman Empire, the German region known as Bavaria has a rich and tumultuous history that spans several thousand years and a unique culture that can still be experienced today. For those who can’t make a pilgrimage all the way to Bavaria itself, the region’s culture and history can still be experienced through the authentic German hotel and museum culture that is prevalent in the U.S. Book a German hotel today and browse below for a brief crash-course on Bavarian history to prepare for your stay.
Bavaria and the Roman Empire
During the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus, much of the area that is today called Bavaria in southeast Germany was occupied by the Celts and became part of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire fell in the 5th Century, the region fell under the control of Bajuwares, a tribe formed from the Celts, invading Germans from the north, and the remaining Romans in the region.
The Bavarian Duchy
The Bavarian duchy, a system of government under the rule of a duke, began in 555 A.D. and met its first demise when invading Karl the Great defeated Bavarian Duke Tassilo in 788. The Duchy later regained power after the fall of another dynasty, the Carolingians, several hundred years later near the turn of the millennium.
For nearly 800 years, from 1180 to 1918, Bavaria continued as a territorial duchy under the rule of the Wittelsbach line. It was during this period that much of Bavaria’s unique culture began to develop. During Wittelsbach rule, Bavaria was proclaimed an electorate in 1623 after the Thirty-Year War, a kingdom during the time of Napoleon (first siding with France and then against them), and then finally, in 1871, it was absorbed as part of the newly-founded Deutsche Reich.
It was not until 1918 that the Wittelsbach rule crumbled during the German “November Revolution.” Bavaria was then declared a “free-state” and Socialist groups installed a new council republic. After the events of WWII, Bavaria was assimilated as a federal state in the newly-founded Federal Republic of Germany, where it remains to this day.
Today, Bavaria is famous for its food and drink—including world famous beer gardens and white sausage—as well as a rich cultural history and unique architecture, which has been immitated around the world. For a true Bavarian expereince right here in the U.S., visit an authentic German hotel in your area. The Bavarian Inn Lodge is the German hotel you are looking for when you want family fun and Bavarian culture.
Bavaria is a federal state in Germany, but the people living there consider themselves Bavarian first and German second. For most people, the word “Bavarian” conjures images of delicious desserts, foamy beer in huge steins, and iconic architecture. For a taste of this unique culture without leaving the U.S., many people look to German hotels.
German hotels often resemble dreamy castles that evoke the feeling of opulence to their guests. Castles, such as the ones built mad King Ludwig II, known as the fairy tale king because of his extravagant castles, offer a glimpse into the country’s past and are an important part of the Bavarian culture, drawing visitors from everywhere in the world. Some of the most recognizable castles and palaces in the world are located in Bavaria.
Another iconic image of Bavarian culture is the oft-imitated traditional dress, specifically the lederhosen and dirndl. Many German hotels and other German-themed businesses and celebrations dress workers in these traditional rural outfits. The lederhosen are shorts or pants made out of leather and elegantly decorated with embroidery on the bib section and suspenders. The longer ones, below the knee, are called bundhosen.
Women wear the traditional dirndl for festivities. The dirndl is based on dresses traditionally worn by peasants living in the Alps. These colorful full skirt dresses and aprons adorned with embroidered flowers are usually worn with a ruffled white blouse is and a buttoned or tied bodice.
Celebrations and Traditions
The Bavarian culture is one of many celebrations from the Aperschnalzen whip-cracking competition to to the globally well-known Oktoberfest. Perhaps the most famous of the Bavarian celebrations is Oktoberfest, a weeks long folk festival held in Munich since 1810. Millions of tourists from around the world flock to the Theresienwiese fairgrounds, known locally as Wies’n, to partake in the food and beer. The first Oktoberfest was a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (to become King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. Today, Oktoberfest celebrations can be found all over the world, often hosted by German hotels or restaurants.
A lesser known but popular celebratory event taking place in winter (usually every 3rd February) is the Aperschnalzen whip-cracking competition. The Aperschnalzen (from the word aper, which means free of snow), is an old tradition that was resurrected in the 20th Century in which teams of men rhythmically snap and crack a whip, known as a goassl, to drive the winter away.
Any meat-lover will tell you that a well-made bratwurst is one of the best dishes out there. Born out of necessity and perfected over centuries of tradition, the delicious sausage we now affectionately call the “brat,” has a unique history that continues as a German restaurant and hotel staple to this day. Explore the unique history of this tasty creation below, and complete your experience by visiting an authentic German restaurant!
The Origin of the Word “Bratwurst”
A lot can be learned about bratwurst history through a study of the etymology, or origins, of the word “bratwurst” itself. Many etymologists trace the origins of “bratwurst” back to the Old High German word “Brat,” meaning without waste, and “wurst,” which means “sausage.”
And that’s exactly what bratwursts are: unwasteful sausages. A bratwurst is typically made using scraps of meat held together in a thin casing (originally made out of animal intestine). Centuries ago, bratwursts were a means of survival for many German people. During harsh winter months, not even the smallest scraps of meat could be wasted, so they were gathered, encased, and preserved into bratwurst sausages. The same the process continues in German restaurants to this day (though many sausage makers elect to use synthetic casing instead of intestine).
The Earliest Bratwurst
The exact origins of the bratwurst are still not entirely known, though most believe it to have originated in Germany several hundred years ago. It has been a long-standing argument between the people of Thüringen and the people of Franconia, two German regions, as to which region developed the bratwurst first. Recently, a hobby historian, Heinrich Hollerl, discovered a list of ingredients for Thuringian sausage over 600 years old. It is currently the oldest known recipe for German sausage. However, Hollerl’s discovery did not settle the debate. Hollerl himself believes that the bratwurst was originally invented by the Celts and was later introduced to the Franconians and Thuringians.
The Bratwurst Today
Today, the bratwurst is a popular food for people around the world. With several varieties and sizes developed over the centuries, it has been embraced throughout Europe, the United States (especially in Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Michigan), and several other countries. A delicious and ingenious creation, the bratwurst is still done best by those who first created it. When you’re feeling like eating a hearty handful of brat, be sure to stop by the closest traditional German restaurant or German hotel in your area.
Now closely associated with German culture and cuisine, cabbage first came to Germany in the 1100s but doesn’t show up in print until the 1500s. Since it’s early days, we’ve learned that red cabbage is a nearly perfect food—low in calories, high in riboflavin, fiber, and vitamin c—and it tastes great raw or cooked. It is also credited with anti-inflammatory properties and is still used as a poultice.
One the most widely eaten cabbage dishes, blaukraut is nearly ubiquitous in restaurants and homes across Germany. Also known as Rotkraut or Rotkohl, depending on the region of Germany, this dish goes back generations with each family having their own family recipe.
German hotels and German restaurants now serve it as a popular side dish with pork, sausage or beef rouladen. The seasoning may change slightly, with ingredients being added or taken out depending on the region and the cook.
Each recipe starts with red cabbage, which is also known as blue cabbage in some parts of Germany because the color can change depending on the pH levels of the soil it’s grown in. Other ingredients can include apples, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, onions, fruit jams, caraway seeds, garlic, wine, raisins, and any number of spices.
With sweet apples and tangy vinegar as a constant in almost all recipes, a balanced flavor is the goal. The balance between sweet and sour is not easily accomplished and those who succeed are very proud of their product.
German restaurants aren’t the only place this dish is revered—German families adds it to the bill of fare for festive occasion as well as everyday meals.
Perhaps the best part of this culinary wonder is its longevity. It tastes better a day or two after it is cooked making it the best leftover in the house. Many times a jar of Blaukraut is taken along for a filling snack or a quick lunch.
Blaukraut is not just a dish of cabbage; it is a source of national pride that is as pretty to look at as it is to devour.