The Oktoberfest 2020 was cancelled. The 187th Munich Oktoberfest is planned to begin on September 18th 2021.

Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit is regularly played in any Bavarian beer tent.

The song that is regularly being played at the Oktoberfest and beer tents all over Bavaria is called “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”. As learning its lyrics won’t take you more than two minutes, we’ve got some more information on the meaning and origin of the song for you to impress your fellows.

Ein Prosit song lyrics

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit

Very often, Ein Prosit is followed by the simple toast, “Oans, zwoa, drei, gsuffa!”, which means, “one, two, three, drink”. Subsequently, the singer may also add an actual toast, often in form of a (supposedly) funny, often vulgar rhyme.

What does it mean in English?

Luckily the lyrics basically consist of only two different words:

Prosit is the conjunctive of the Latin word prodesse and means “may it be beneficial” or roughly “be well”. The word is the origin of the German prost.

Gemütlichkeit depicts a state of well-being, warmth and friendliness.

Altogether, the phrase “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit“ means something like, “a toast to well-being”.

After the song, you cling the mugs.
After the song, you cling the mugs.

The whole protocol

The song is often preceded by the band calling out, “die Krüge hoch”, which means, “raise your mugs” and is consequently executed by a good-humored crowd. This is being repeated two more times. Bands like to use this prelude to determine the level of excitement.

After the song, your mug still in your hand, you clink glasses with everyone around you, usually not individually, but at the same time in the center of the table. In general, when you clink glasses, you emphasize the gesture by saying “prost”.

The song's history and origin

Although the only reason that the song is still known today is its close ties to Bavarian beer tent culture, its roots aren't Bavarian at all. Its composer was Bernhard Dietrich from Chemnitz, Saxonia. As Ein Prosit is his only piece to survive, not much is known about the man who lived from 1840 until 1902 and worked as a textile manufacturers' accountant. His masterpiece was probably composed in the late 19th century.

After it gained some popularity among male choral societies, the legendary, extraordinarily innovative landlord Georg Lang (Lang Schurl) discovered and used it for one of its great novelties. When he took over an Oktoberfest tent in 1898, he also introduced the first large orchestra to the Oktoberfest.

Georg Ritzer, post card „Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit\", 1899. Part of the collection of Munich
Georg Ritzer, post card „Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit\", 1899. Part of the collection of Munich's city museum.

To heat up the crowd even more, Lang distributed songbooks in his tent so that guests could sing along with his 30-man-brass-band. One of those songs was Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit. This completely new way to celebrate in an Oktoberfest tent was a huge success and in the following years, large brass band and Ein Prosit became a standard for the larger volksfests in Bavaria.

As if the song's history wasn't already tied closely enough to the Oktoberfest, a couple of years ago, its rights were bought by Wolfgang Grünbauer, the bandleader of the Oktoberfestmusikanten, the orchestra of the Festzelt Tradition. Hereby, the originally Saxonian song eventually became a true Bavarian.

How often is it being played?

Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit is without a doubt the most frequently played piece of music in Bavarian beer tents. You can expect to hear it about two or three times per hour. At festivals where the crowd doesn't react to it, it may only be once an hour. As German bands have to report each piece of music they perform to the German performing rights society GEMA, the GEMA uses their data to publish the most popular Oktoberfest songs each year. Guess which one is the champion every single year.