I hope your Oktoberfesterdämmerung is going — ah, not well, exactly, because that would be beside the point, but tolerably.
Oktoberfesterdämmerung is, of course, on our list of new holidays for 2012. It’s a multi-week-long — well, not celebration exactly, more like acknowledgement that life has its gray moments, that beer and sausages are nice during the day, but that the night has its place as well.
Oktoberfesterdämmerung began in 1811, when Reinhold Cornhold, a minor duke of the Lesser Prussian Lowlands, drank a beer and ate a sausage and just sat on his minor estate watching the sun go down behind a forested mountain. “Huh,” he thought, in Lesser Prussian. “One hundred years from now, nobody will remember the cow I punched this morning for not yielding milk, nor how profusely I apologized to it. Two hundred years from now, this building where I am sitting might be a quarry, or a battlefield, or a space station, or a peanut factory. Three hundred years from now, my name will have faded from the lips of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Unless I do something now.”
Thus started the Prussian tradition of punching cows and apologizing to them, and then drinking some milk, and then later that day drinking beer and eating a sausage in the dark, citing Reinhold Cornhold’s name as the reason for it all. At first only Reinhold’s household observed the tradition — at his fierce insistence — but later, as the minor duke divorced* and married and divorced and married more and more equally-minor duchesses from the surrounding clandoms, the custom spread.
Unsurprisingly, cows eventually learned to avoid the Lesser Prussian Lowlands, and the territory was conquered by the French in 1848 thanks to the brittle bones of the undercalciumed Prussian army. Later, Reinhold Cornhold’s estate was bulldozed to build an Aldi supermarket.
*Can’t imagine why anyone would divorce such a charming fellow.
So, this Oktoberfesterdämmerung, have a beer, a sausage, a hearty nighttime-think, and a cow-punch (with apology) on me! And when you do, think of Reinhold Cornhold. He may have been fictional, but he gave us something all too real: RC Cola, which bears his initials to this day.