A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill. The term may be applied to the person or thing so honored, the drink taken, or the verbal expression accompanying the drink.
Apparently the word “toast” derives from the Latin word ‘tostare’ which means to scorch or roast – i.e. toast. It was a common thing to flavour wine by floating small pieces of toasted bread in it.
Why do people say cheers?
First of let’s begin by clarifying that “Cheers” is what you say as a toast. So it’s not a synonym for toast. So when we make a toast, you can say many different things, depending on the occasion or situation. One of those things is “Cheers”
Many explanations have been given in order to explain the custom of clinking glasses during toasts. One is that early on Europeans felt that the sound of it helped drive off all the evil spirits. Another myth claims that by clicking the glasses into one another, wine could be sloshed from glass to glass, thereby serving as a proof the beverages had not been poisoned.
A third claim claims that the “clink” served as a symbolic appreciation and sign of trust among fellow drinkers who did not feel the need to sample each others’ drinks to prove that they had not been tampered with.
Put simply, a toast is a call to drink in honor of a person or a concept, such as good health. Its many successions throughout the centuries have resulted in short and to-the-point sentiments, such as “Cheers!” There are of course also many other colorful renditions of this tradition.
For example a Gaelic toast goes like this: “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
In Homer’s ancient Greek epic poem “The Odyssey,” Ulysses drank to Achilles’ health. In ancient Rome, diners raised their glasses to the Emperor Augustus during every meal. Several other cultures as well such as the Egyptians, Hebrews, Huns, Persians and Saxons, pledged their honor by raising a glass, as well.
In modern Greece it’s now “ya mas!”, which means “to our health” and in similar fashion to all other countries in the world, you clink glasses when you toast.
In Russia toasting with vodka is an integral part of the Russian drinking culture. Even though there doesn’t seem to be a direct transliteration of “cheers,” the simplest toast and one that’s often used is to drink to someone’s health. The famous toast in Russia is really “Nostrovia!” And it’s not a drinking toast at all. In Russian, it doesn’t mean “Cheers!”. It is used as a reply to thank someone for a meal or a drink.
In Spain you are typically drinking a shot of honey rum. A quick “salud” is what you will hear there.
In France you’re probably sipping a delicious Sancerre and say a quick “Santé” – the French love to shorten their words and phrases, and this is simply a shortened version of “à ta santé”.
In Germany the drinking culture has a lot of traditions not to mention all the incredible brews. There they say “Prost,” pronounced “proost,” and it is considered customary to toast everyone at the table whenever anyone says “Prost.” If you don’t you may be cursed so be aware…
In Italy The Italian cheers, “cin cin” (pronounced “chin-chin”) is so well-understood around the world that you can get away with it in most countries and they’ll understand exactly what you mean.
Everyone lift your drinks up.
A toast can be short and sweet as simple as cheers yes.. But it can also come from the heart if you really want to say something and have everyone’s attention. Best example of this would be at weddings when it’s traditional in almost all cultures that the best man and maid of honor make a toast as well as the father of the bride. I can go back to my wedding when my brother totally winged it and took me by surprise by speaking from his heart and telling me of the day he saw his older brother fly away on the plain while he was still abc on the farmland and saw the plane fly over from our small little island on my way to the United States. The tears came pouring throughout the room but mostly from me. Eleven years later and I still hear about it from some of my coworkers and friends. But that toast touched so many. It still touches me now while writing this post. When a toast comes from the heart like it did that day from my brother. My best man. Fast forward a couple of years later it was time to marry my little sister down under in Melbourne Australia. Being the only representative there from our side of the family I felt I needed to support her and inform all the guests there what a great person she was and how happy I was for her. I knew run points through my head during the long flight over until I had a story I wanted to share. I did not write anything down because I wanted it to come from the heart like my brother did. The crowd consisted of people speaking two different languages (greek and English) so I tried to split the toast / speech into both so everyone can get a sense of what I was trying to say. It was another beautiful moment for both families. A toast can connect people. It can bring a smile during a dark time. It can bring back memories of the past and hope for the future.
So cheers to you out there. I appreciate you visiting my site and reading this blog post.
I live you with an old Irish toast:
“Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold beer-and another one!”