Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Charivari – fashion jewelry for men and women

Charivari: the oldest traditional accessory on your Oktoberfest outfit.

The charivari is the most special Oktoberfest accessory of all. In days gone by, almost anything could be attached to these massive silver, decorative chains: coins, gems, badger fur, paws, and even teeth. Today, traditional values continue to be reflected in charivaris, even if these days the design has become more modern.

Charivari: an accessory that goes way back

Nowadays, charivari can mostly be seen on the hunting grounds of Oktoberfest. Upstanding gents embellish their lederhosen look with this trinket. It used to be a talisman that was bestowed on real hunters after a successful hunt. It was also an important status symbol for prosperous farmers and landowners. In the very early days, the charivari was a fob chain that was attached to the button hole of a traditional vest and people loved to hang little trophies on it. Interesting fact: They couldn’t be bought and had to be passed down from generation to generation. If you want to wear a charivari nowadays, however, you probably won’t have any other choice but to buy one — from a traditional costume store or at the Auer Dult market.

Size matters - 33 centimeters to be exact

The ideal length of a man’s charivari is 33 centimeters. The latest versions are generally made from 925 sterling silver, although in earlier years they often consisted of 800 sterling silver. To this day, small parts of animals killed in a hunt are worked into charivaris. Parts of antlers and the claws of birds of prey enjoy great popularity, as do fangs. If it’s above the fly, your charivari is in the right place.

Charivari for women — the latest charm bracelet

These days at Oktoberfest, charivaris can be spotted elsewhere and not only adorning lederhosen. Recently, they have also established their importance as an accessory for dirndls. The women’s version is more delicate than the charivari worn by their male counterparts, but it is also decorated with small charms and silver talismans (trinkets). It therefore looks quite similar to a trendy ‘charm bracelet’. A lady in traditional costume usually opts to wear her charivari on the bodice of her dirndl or on her apron’s waistband. At first glance, it appears that the order of the charms on her charivari is merely coincidental. But that’s not the case. There is method to the seemingly random arrangement of the numerous lucky charms. Each charm has a place of its own and a unique story.

Charivaris: Turning heads beyond Oktoberfest

While men really only get the opportunity to adorn themselves in a charivari at Oktoberfest and other folk festivals, it’s a whole other story for women. The charivari has made its way into acceptable everyday wear. More and more women are switching to the charivari not only to team with their dirndl, but also to add a touch of elegance to their everyday look. (Bavarian) fashionistas happily team casual wear such as jeans and a shirt or blouse with a traditional cardigan, Tyrolean jacket, and of course, a charivari.