I'm adding a new blog to talk about the stuff we learned about beer gardens and Oktoberfest, thanks to Laura for reminding me. Disregard the picture...it's random, we haven't uploaded Munich yet.
After complaining to our guide during the beer garden tour that we hadn't learned anything about the beer gardens or traditional songs or anything, this is what she told us: Beer gardens originated in the 19th century in Bavaria when King Ludwig I decided to enforce that beer be brewed only in the cold months because it had to be fermented at cold temperatures. In order to keep the beer cold during the summer, the beer was stored in cellars dug into river banks and covered in chestnut trees. Soon after the cellars were built to store the beer, they began to serve it also and benches were set up in the "beer gardens." Smaller breweries petitioned to King Ludwig to forbid the gardens from selling food to prevent further loss of customers, and although that law is not in effect today, beer gardens must allow people to bring their own food.
On our free tour we learned about the origin of Oktoberfest. It originated from the wedding of Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I, above) to Princess Therese that was announced for the 12th of October 1810 and all citizens of Munich were invited to the festivites. The celebration was held on the fields in front of the city gates (these fields now are called Theresienwiese, "Theresa's fields" and is still the main part of the party). Horse races signified the end of the celebration, and these races got the tradition of Oktoberfest started when they were repeated the following year. Our guide told us (I couldn't find this anywhere online however) that everyone was catered with an abundance of free wine - which later was changed to beer because wine was too expensive.
On our tour, our guide told us a little about the Hofbrauhaus. Originally women were not allowed in because the men would sit at these huge benches, and instead of getting up and going outside to piss, they would drop the flap of their Lederhosen, and piss along their cane-like pissing stick (to reduce splash back) towards a drain that ran underneath the table. Also we learned that it was in one of the rooms of the Hofbrauhaus that Hitler and the Nazis formed their National Socialist Party and drew up their plan for nationalization (killing off those that were against them politically and not of "German blood").