1 History 2 Situations 3 Norms and etiquette of toasting 4 The German word "prost" 5 Traditional toasts 6 Brief toasts worldwide 7 See also 8 References 9 External links
History According to various apocryphal stories, the custom of touching glasses evolved from concerns about poisoning. By one account, clinking glasses together would cause each drink to spill over into the others' (though there is no real evidence for such an origin). According to other stories, the word toast became associated with the custom in the 17th century, based on a custom of flavoring drinks with spiced toast. The word originally referred to the lady in whose honor the drink was proposed, her name being seen as figuratively flavoring the drink. The International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture says toasting "is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words 'long life!' or 'to your health!'" Situations
Celebratory drinks for the end of World War II
New Year's toast, Germany, 1953
Toasts are generally offered at times of celebration or commemoration, including certain holidays, such as New Year's Eve. Other occasions include retirement celebrations, housewarming parties, births, etc. The protocol for toasting at weddings is comparatively elaborate and fixed. At a wedding reception, the father of the bride, in his role as host, regularly offers the first toast, thanking the guests for attending, offering tasteful remembrances of the bride's childhood, and wishing the newlyweds a happy life together. The best man usually proposes a toast in the form of best wishes and congratulations to the newlyweds. A best man's toast takes the form of a short speech (3–5 minutes) that combines a mixture of humor and sincerity. The humor often comes in the shape of the best man telling jokes at the groom's expense whilst the sincerity incorporates the praise and complimentary comments that a best man should make about the bride and groom, amongst others. The actual "toast" is then delivered at the end of the speech and is a short phrase wishing the newlyweds a happy, healthy, loving life together. The maid of honor may follow suit, appropriately tailoring her comments to the bride. The groom may offer the final toast, thanking the bride's parents for hosting the wedding, the wedding party for their participation, and finally dedicating the toast to the bridesmaids. Typical traditional wedding toasts include the following:
(to the couple) Here's to your coffins May they be made of hundred-year-old oaks Which we shall plant tomorrow. May you both live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live May the best of your yesterdays be the worst of your tomorrows. (to the bride) May I see you grey And combing your grandchildren's hair.
Toasts are also offered on patriotic occasions, as in the case of Stephen Decatur's famous "Our country! In our intercourse with foreign nations may we always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." Equally traditional are satiric verses:
Here's to dear old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod, Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God.
Norms and etiquette of toasting
A bride offering a toast at a wedding
Toasts may be solemn, sentimental, humorous, even bawdy or
insulting. The practice of announcing one's intention to make a
toast and signalling for quiet by rapping on the wineglass, while
common, is nonetheless regarded by some authorities as rude. Except
in very small and informal gatherings, a toast is offered standing. At
a gathering, none should offer a toast to the guest of honor until the
host has had the opportunity to do so. In English-speaking countries,
guests may signal their approval of the toast by saying "hear
hear." The person honored should neither stand nor drink, but
after the toast should rise to thank the one who has offered the
toast, perhaps but not necessarily offering a toast in turn. As toasts
may occur in long series, experienced attendees often make sure to
leave enough wine in the glass to allow participation in numerous
Putting one's glass down before the toast is complete, or simply
holding one's glass without drinking is widely regarded as impolite,
suggesting that one does not share the benevolent sentiments expressed
in the toast, nor the unity and fellowship implicit in toasting
itself. Even the non-drinker is counseled not to refuse to allow
wine to be poured for a toast. Inverting the glass is especially
Toasting traditionally involves alcoholic beverages.
Champagne (or at least some variety of sparkling wine) is regarded as especially festive and is widely associated with New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve and other celebrations. Many people nowadays substitute sparkling fruit juice (often packaged in champagne-style bottles), and many authorities consider it perfectly acceptable to participate in a toast while drinking water. Toasting with an empty glass may be viewed by some as acceptable behavior for the non-drinker, though feigning to drink from such a glass would likely be seen as ridiculous. The person giving the toast should never do so with an empty glass, even if the glass contains nothing more than water. Teetotalers may view the drinking of toasts to be abominable and incompatible with their stand, as witnessed by this narrative from The Teetotaler (1840):
At the anniversary of Cheshunt College, Sir Culling Eardley Smith was in the chair. This gentleman, after dinner, said "he had subscribed to the Teetotal Pledge, which of course was incompatible with the drinking of toasts;" when the Rev. J. Blackburn, (minister of Claremont Chapel, Pentonville,) said "he was not a teetotaler,—he was not in bondage,—and on that subject he had very recently been preaching." What could the Rev. Gentleman mean by this, but that he had recently been preaching against Teetotalism? Let the Rev. Gentleman look at drinking customs and their enormous evils, and ask himself if he has done his duty; or whether he expects to be pronounced "a good an faithful servant," if he continues even from the pulpit to encourage the great damning evil of this nation. Mr. Donaldson said that he was happy to add, that one of the most popular ministers of the day, the Rev. J. Sherman, gave Mr. B. a pretty severe and well-merited reply, by saying, "His brother Blackburn had said, he (Mr. B.) was not in bondage; he must be allowed to say, that he rejoiced that he (Mr. S.) had been enabled to break through the old and stupid custom of washing down sentiments by draughts of intoxicating liquors. He had thus become a free man. Mr. Donaldson concluded with some very severe animadversions upon the infamous conduct of Mr. Blackburn.
It is a superstition in the
United States Navy
United States Navy that a toast is never to be made with water, since the person so honored will be doomed to a watery grave. During a United States Air Force
United States Air Force Dining In, all toasts are traditionally made with wine except for the final toast of the night made in honor of POWs/MIAs; because these honorees did not have the luxury of wine while in captivity, the toast is made with water. Some versions of the protocol prescribe a toast in water for all deceased comrades. It is or was the custom on the (British) Royal Navy
Royal Navy to drink toasts sitting, because in old-type wooden warships below decks there was not enough headroom to stand upright. The German word "prost"
Toasting at Oktoberfest
Prosit is a
Latin word from which the German short form "prost" is derived. It is a toast, that is an acclamation made before drinking an alcoholic beverage when drinkers chink glasses. The expression dates back to the beginning of the 18th century when it was used among university students and eventually made its way into every day language. In a ceremonious context and in connection with a short speech, the English word toast may also be used. Origin of the Word The word is, as mentioned above, of Latin
Latin origin and it comes from the verb "prodesse" (= "to benefit sth/sb", "to be beneficial"). Consequently, "prosit" is the conjugated form (3rd person Singular, Present Subjunctive, Active) and therefore an optative: "To you/ to your health". Like the colloquial "prost", "prosit" was originally used by university students. Usage In German, synonyms like " Wohl bekomm's!", "Zum Wohl!" and many versions from other languages may also be used instead of "prosit". The acclamation itself is also referred to as a "prosit". The verb form is "zuprosten", where the prefix "zu" means that the speech act is targeted at one or several people. In the Swabian dialect, the word has the further meaning of a belch, called a "Prositle". The acclamation is followed by the chinking of glasses, often linked to other rules like making eye contact. This ritual is commonly attributed to a medieval custom, whereby one could avoid being poisoned by one's drinking companions, as a few drops of each beverage got mixed when chinking glasses. There is every likelihood that this did not work. It was much more effective for one table to share one or more drinking vessels, a procedure which was common for a long time. In Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, prosit is a blessing used in response to a sneeze, in the same way the English expression "bless you" is used. In Germany, toasting, not necessarily by words but usually just by touching each other's drinking vessels, is usually a very closely observed part of drinking culture. In private company, no one should drink a sip of alcohol before having toasted all the other people at the table. In doing this, it is very important to look directly into the other drinker's eyes. Not practising this is considered rude and often, humorously, believed to attract all kinds of bad luck (e.g. "seven years of bad luck" and the like). Traditional toasts In the British Royal Navy, the officers' noon mess typically began with the loyal toast, followed by a toast distinctive for the day of the week:
Monday: Our ships at sea. Tuesday: Our sailors (formerly Our men but changed to include women). Wednesday: Ourselves. ("As no-one else is likely to concern themselves with our welfare," is often the retort and not part of the toast) Thursday: A bloody war or a sickly season (meaning the desire and likelihood of being promoted when many people die: during war or sickness.) Friday: A willing foe and sea room. (meaning the payment of prize money after a successful engagement) Saturday: Our families (formerly Our wives and sweethearts with the retort of "may they never meet"). Sunday: Absent friends.
The sequence was also prescribed in at least one publication for the United States Navy. A toast might be spontaneous and free-form, a carefully planned original speech, or a recitation of traditional sentiments such as this Irish example:
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
An informal variation of the last 2 lines is:
"And may ye be in Heaven a half-hour afore the devil knows ye're dead!"
Brief toasts worldwide
In many cultures, toasting is common and to not do so may be a breach
of etiquette. The general theme of the common brief toast is "good
luck" or "good health". At formal meals in certain countries of the
Commonwealth of Nations, the first toast to be proposed is
traditionally the Loyal
Toast ("The Queen"). This may be adapted in other countries to give a loyal toast to the appropriate Head of State.
Pre-meal toast in Mureş County, Romania
Family feast by Niko Pirosmani. A Georgian tamada proposes a toast
Other examples include:
Albanian: "Gëzuar" (enjoy)
Amharic language (Ethiopia): "Le'tenachin!" (to our health) Arabic: "بصحتك" (be ṣaḥtak, for your health) Armenian: "Կենաց" or "Կենացդ" (kenats/genats or kenatst/genatst, "to life" or "to your life") Australian English: Cheers mate! (to your happiness my friend) Basque: "Topa!" (toast) Belarusian: "Будзьма!" (budzma, may we live!) Bosnian: "Nazdravlje" (to health) or "Živjeli" (live!) Bulgarian: "Наздраве" (nazdrave, to health) Catalan: "Xin-xin" or "Salut" (health) Cantonese: "飲杯" (yám būi, lit. "drink the glass", similar to "bottoms up" in English) Chinese (Mandarin): "干杯" (gān bēi, lit. "Empty the glass", similar to "bottoms up" in English) Croatian: "Živjeli" (live!) Czech: "Na zdraví" (to health) Danish: "Skål" (lit. "bowl", refers to older drinking vessels) Dutch: "Proost" (from Latin
Latin prosit "may it be good" (i.e., for you)), or "(op je) gezondheid" ((to your) health); in Belgium: schol (from Scandinavian) or santé (from the French). English: "Cheers", "Bottom's up", "Chin-chin" Esperanto: "Je via sano!" (to your health) Estonian: "Terviseks" (for the health) or "proosit" (from German "Prost") Filipino: "Mabuhay" (to life) Finnish: "Kippis", "Pohjanmaan kautta", or "Hölökyn kölökyn" (in Savonian dialects) French: "Tchin tchin" or "Santé" (health) or "cul sec" (lit. "dry bottom", to drink the whole glass in one go) Galician: "Saude" (Good health) Georgian: "გაუმარჯოს!" (Gaumarjos!) (Victory!) German: "Prost", "Prosit", from Latin
Latin prosit (may it be good (i.e., for you)) or "Zum Wohl" (to health) Greek: "Εις υγείαν" (is iyían), "στην υγειά σου/μας", "γειά" (for health) or "Εβίβα" (eviva, from Italian evviva, "long life!") Hebrew: "לחיים" ("L'Chayyim") (to life, traditional Jewish toast) Hindi: "अच्छी सेहत" (achchee sehat, "good health") Hungarian: "Egészségünkre" (for our health), more commonly "Egészségedre" [ˈɛgeːʃːeːgɛdrɛ] (to your health), "Fenékig" (lit. "to the bottom", similar to "bottoms up" in English) Icelandic: "Skál" (lit. "bowl", referring to older drinking vessels) Irish: "Sláinte" (health) Italian: "Cin Cin" or "Salute" (health) Japanese: "乾杯" (kanpai, lit. "Empty the glass", similar to "bottoms up" in English) Korean: "건배" (gunbae, lit. "Empty the glass", similar to "bottoms up" in English) Latvian: "Priekā" (to joy) Lithuanian: "Į sveikatą" (to health) Macedonian: "На здравје" (na zdravje, to health) Maltese: "Saħħa" (health) Manx Gaelic: "Sláinte" (health) Maori (NZ): "Mauri ora" (to life) Marathi: "Chang bhala" (may it be good) Mexican Spanish: "Salud" (to health) or "Saludcita" (to health, diminutive) Nepali: "तरङ्ग" ("tarang", 'vibration') Norwegian: "Skål" (lit. "bowl", referring to older drinking vessels) Persian: "به سلامتی" (Be salamati, "good health" ) Polish: "Na zdrowie" (to health), "Twoje zdrowie" (to your health, singular) or "Wasze zdrowie" (to your health, formal and/or plural) Portuguese: "Tchim-tchim" or "Saúde" (health) Romanian: "Noroc" (good luck) or "Sănătate" (health) Russian: "Ваше здоровье!" (Vashe zdorov'ye, to your health) Scottish Gaelic: "Slàinte mhath" (good health) Serbian: "Uzdravlje" (to health) or "Živeli" (live!) Slovak: "Na zdravie" (to health) Slovene: "Na zdravje" (to health) Spanish/Castilian: "¡Chinchín!" (onomatopoeic for clinking of glasses) or "¡Salud!" (health)
Five Swedish men toasting, sometime around the year 1900.
Swedish: "Skål" (lit. "bowl", referring to older drinking vessels); Gutår ("good year", old fashioned, still used in formal settings) Swiss German: "Proscht" (as in German "Prost") or as diminutive form "Pröschtli" Thai: "ชัยโย" (chai-yo!, lit. "Hurrah!") or "ชนแก้ว" (chon-kaew, lit. "knock glasses") or "หมดแก้ว" (mod-kaew, lit. "Bottoms up") Turkish: "Şerefe" (to honor) Ukrainian: "За здоров'я" or "Ваше здоров'я" (Za zdorovya, to health, or Vashe zdorovya, to your health) or "Будьмо" (Budmo, let us be) Vietnamese: "Dô" or "dzô" ((take) in) Welsh: "Iechyd da (i chi)" (Good health (to you))
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Roast (comedy) Tamada Toastmaster Toastmasters International Toasts of the Royal Navy Types of speeches
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Make a toast in 50 other languages More multilingual toasts "Toast". New International Encyclopedia.