Monday, June 30, 2014

Oktoberfest & a Bit of Romance

Some Thoughts for the Fall Season…
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

Well it's that time of the year when summer has past & fall is now upon us. As chill nights & more temperate afternoons soon turn the landscape into a wonder of explosive color & natural beauty, we thus enter into a season of festival harvest & traditional celebration. Indeed, it's a perfect time to work hard on the task at hand, yet take a moment to pause & savor the prosperity we thus create.

So I'd like to look briefly back upon the summer & share with you one of the most romantic moments that my business has ever brought me, to then look upon the landscape of our culture & consider some of the rich traditions that our festival season carries, & finally to look ahead at some fun stuff for the season before us.

First, I just have to share what was probably one of the most romantic things I've ever seen:

I'd like to tell you about Chris & Anna…

They met a few years ago while doing post-graduate work at American University. Their first date was one of those moments when you just knew good stuff was yet to come. It ended in a quaint little park just off campus where they talked for hours on end (unaware that such time had even passed) until eventually they looked up & realized that it was quickly becoming dawn. Now that's chemistry!

Soon thereafter they grew to love each other very much. They both moved to New York, & in time Chris decided that he wanted to ask Anna to marry him.  That's where I came in; for Chris had an idea, & once I heard what he had in mind I just knew that I had a part of it (not my company, me personally).
In respect of her culture's traditions, he had arranged to take his parents down to Texas to meet with her family & ask for her hand in marriage. Being the man that he his, her parents were of course elated. So with such a blessing to back his intentions our plan was then set in motion.

Anna thought that he had been on a fishing trip with his father & knew nothing of his little excursion. But now back in New York, he was taking her down to DC for what she thought would be a weekend spent with some old friends from college.  Instead, she was on her way to experience a moment that she'd remember forever…

Indeed, Chris wanted to do this in style. So he devised a plan to recreate some of the magic that they had felt that night when they'd first met. For that he had contacted The Private Professionals to arrange for "dinner in the park."  And after several emails, a few phone calls, & some logistical positioning on both sides, we finally had worked everything out & were ready to go.

In fact, I have to say that even the Gods were with us that night. At the time, DC was experiencing a long run of really bad rains & we were both very concerned that we might get washed out. But as the day approached, the clouds parted, a beautiful sun dried the grounds, & I swear that even the bugs left us alone that night.  :-)  

The park had 3 baseball fields with each outfield converging into a central position. I set up there, & awaiting the couple would be a full service four-course dinner served on white table cloth with fine china & silver.

In fact, as a funny note aside, while I was setting up there was actually a game for little league being played. All the mothers were sitting there just watching some crazy guy walking back & forth with various articles of this & that. I kind of smiled as it was clear that they were all watching me with this look of "what in the hell is he doing?"  I finally just paused on my way back from a trip & told a couple what was going on. Word spread in a heartbeat & within moments there was an entire little league full of mothers who thought that Chris was the most romantic guy on the planet (& to be honest, after that I kinda felt sorry for their husbands).  ;-)

Anyway, they arrived just as the sun began to set. The table was set with candles already burning & a red rose in a glass swan vase. The sky was brilliant with color & the look on Anna's face was of perfect disbelief.  I greeted our guests as they approached, "Hi Chris, it's nice to finally meet you. And you my dear must be Anna.
 Well my name is Rick, & this is going to be a night you'll never forget…"

A round of cosmopolitans were served with select cheese so that they could both unwind a bit & Anna could just absorb what was going on. That was soon followed with a course of appetizers: chicken satay drizzled in a coconut peanut sauce with caramelized onions & roasted red peppers. An excellent Sauvignon Blanc then accompanied a Baby Caesar Salad served with grilled shrimp & pan seared scallops. The main course featured Filet Mignon with sautéed Vidalia onions & portabella mushroom, all drizzled in a raspberry cab-sauce, & served with a side of grilled asparagus & risotto influenced wild rice. 
After dinner everything was cleared & the table was reset for dessert. Then I just left 'em alone as Chris & I had arranged that this was to be the moment. I just casually stood off to the side for a while (camera in hand) as he began to show Anna the pictures of his trip to Texas. At first you could see it on her face, "what's going on exactly?"  Then he started in with how happy she had made him, how much he loves her, & how he wanted her to be a part of his life forever.

In classic form, he took a ring from his pocket, took a knee, & proposed…

Anna had the most honest look of deep surprise & true adoration that I've ever seen. There was no doubt, from beginning to end he had pulled it off with absolute perfection. Hugs soon followed, & then came the tears!  After all that, you've got to have some tears! And of course, I knew it would end this way…

She Said YES! 

After some pictures, we all toasted the moment with some champagne, & they enjoyed some chocolate mousse cake while family & friends all got a call (it's perhaps the one time that a cell phone at the dinner table is actually a good thing).  No doubt, we made a bit of magic that night & it was beauty defined. I can only say that it was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of it.

Dear Rick, Thank you so much making the night of our engagement something truly magical. Everything was so beautiful & so perfect. We are sincerely grateful for your professionalism, dedication, & passion - for all that went into planning & executing such a perfect evening (not to mention your very cool & fun personality!). You helped ease all anxieties & create a very surreal event comprised of great food, great company, laughter, tears of joy, & a tremendous amount of love. Thank you for making such a special evening one that we'll treasure forever.  
Sincerely, Anna & Chris.


Perhaps it's because I've since met someone who's granted me a bit of my own love in life, but coming from a guy who has an ex-fiancé in his past I can honestly say that my faith in true love has again been restored.  Indeed, a story of love is really what started one of the greatest traditions that the festival season brings - Oktoberfest was actually born of a wedding…

The Story of Oktoberfest & the Tradition of Halloween:

- On October 12th in 1810, Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later crowned as King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony. Traditionally such an event would garner a grand celebration open only to the King's court, nobles, & society's grand elite. But Prince Ludwig wanted his people to share in the celebration, so he opened the grounds before the city gates & provided a grand festival for the whole of Bavaria (this was unheard of at the time, for traditionally nobles & the common people never mingled at such affairs).

Over 40,000 attended the festival, & although the first celebration was not focused particularly on beer, six of the nation's greatest brewers set aside a select Märzen styled ale for the event (the original six included: Paulaner, Hacker, Pschorr, Spaten, Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, & Augustiner). A grand horse race was arranged on the final day of celebration & signaled the close of the official festival.

The following year it was decided to hold the horse race again, & a fair was built around a Bavarian Agricultural Show to boost the state's trade in agriculture. In time the tradition of the horse race was abandoned, but the overall fair evolved into a harvest festival that was soon celebrated throughout all of Germany. Today it is the largest single festival in the world & draws roughly 6 million revelers to Munich each year.

Oktoberfest traditionally starts on the third weekend of September & runs until the first Sunday of October. This year it celebrates its 196th year, a tradition to which only epidemics of cholera & war have given it pause.

Some excellent Oktoberfest Beers to try are: Paulaner (my personal favorite), Spaten, & Ayinger, as well as their domestic counterparts, Sam Adams, Harpoon, & Brooklyn Brewery. You can actually enjoy the Oktoberfest style year round by simply looking for an ale brewed in the traditional Märzen style. 

- the term "Halloween" actually comes from a corruption of the term "All Hallows Eve" which essentially marks the eve of 'All Saints Day' traditionally observed on November 1st (originally, this was a very solemn day used to honor all the saints in heaven). Despite its connection to the Church however, the traditional observance of Halloween actually owes its origin to an ancient festival of the Druids…  

In ancient Celtic tradition, October 31st was celebrated as a holiday called Samhain (pronounced 'sow-en'). This was a day when the harvest season was considered to be at a close & was seen as a time when the year was essentially reconciled (both spiritually & physically). Most ancient cultures saw this time as being associated with death, & it was often believed that the boundary between the physical & spirit world were temporarily blurred. As a result, spirits could for a time blend & intermingle with the living. So on the night of October 31st people would gather in the village dressed in various garb of a ghoulish manner, & they'd parade around making all sorts of noise or mischief to ward off any evil spirits as well as to disorient any regular spirits that might be searching for homes or people to possess.

In time however, the Celtic territories were conquered & controlled by the Romans. But the Romans were quite brilliant in their diplomacy, for they didn't as a rule force dictatorship on the conquered. Rather, they tried to assimilate their culture into the local ways, then they simply maintained political dominance in each region under which they maintained control. As a result, many of the holidays we know today began as predominantly Roman holidays that were merged with local celebrations, & that were eventually blended into entirely new traditions.
Along those same lines, it was sometime later when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity that he followed this same general rule. He wanted to find a way for the people to embrace the new religion. So rather than to decree oppressive laws that could end in conflict & uprising, he looked for ways to meld the beliefs of the Christian faith into the lifestyles of the masses (this is how the tradition of Christmas essentially got started). Many of the early popes followed in his wisdom, so it was later decided that All Saints Day should be held on November 1st, thus following on the heels of the October celebration already in place.  

Actually, it was in a similar fashion that such Christian influence came across the Atlantic with Spanish conquerors. Such traditions were blended with Aztec customs to create The Day of the Dead (celebrated widely in Mexico & Mexico City to this day).  The custom of Halloween however was brought to America during the 1840's by Irish immigrants displaced by the great potato famine.

From this however, the tradition of trick-or-treating seems to have come from a custom of the All Souls' Day parades in old England. It was believed that the dead would often live for a time in a state of limbo upon the earth. Prayer it was believed could expedite one's passage into heaven. So traditionally the poor would go door to door & beg for food during the festival, & in return for a promise to pray for the family's recently departed they would be given a pastry called a 'soul cake'.
Ultimately though, as the mysticism & more religious aspects of the holiday eventually waned, the festival atmosphere continued to persevere. Eventually, American capitalism began to seize upon the opportunity & it soon developed into a celebration focused more on simple fun & frolic. Today it is the highest grossing holiday for most retailers second only to Christmas.

No comments:

Post a Comment