Cheers to toasting traditions and what they really mean

Cheers to toasting traditions and what they really mean

Holidays often bring the opportunity to toast those you cherish most. Glasses are raised to recognize special occasions, achievements and give thanks for health and happiness. So let’s raise our glasses to toast as we celebrate the holiday season.  But first let’s look at how the tradition of making toasts began. How has it evolved over the centuries? What is customary in other countries?

Let’s start with the name; to “toast” originated from a tradition of adding bits of toasted bread to the wine to improve the taste. While the exact origin of the action may never be known, records show it was a custom across many cultures throughout history. Legend has it the Roman Senate required citizens to toast to the health of Emperor Augustus at each and every meal. While the Greeks may have poured from the same pitcher and had all raise their glasses together as a sign that the beverage was not poisoned. Kings throughout Europe also made toasting a requirement at their courts.

In many nations, it was customary to finish one’s glass for each toast offered throughout the meal and there was never just one toast. In addition, women were often forbidden from participating. We’re sure glad that tradition has gone by the wayside. However, in 1791, The Royal Toastmaster book was published outlining acceptable toasts and setting a new tone for the tradition. In later years some newspapers even kept an official Toast Editor on staff and held regular toast competitions.

As the custom of offering a toast spread around the world, many created their own formalities. Here are a few tips for the world traveler:

  • For Brazilian celebrations toast to your health with saude!
  • In China its custom to clink your glass lower than the host as a sign of respect while saying gan bei or bottoms up!
  • Costa Ricans often raise their glass to pure life with pura vida!
  • When in Germany and toasting with wine, join in by saying zum whol but be sure you make eye contact as you clink everyone’s glasses.
  • Italians can choose between salutecin cin or use the phrase cent’ anni which roughly translates to “may you live one hundred years”.
  • For proposing a toast in Japan use kanpai (dry the glass) after pouring a glass for everyone in attendance but do not pour your own.
  • Spanish cultures often toast to good health using salud!
  • Frequent toasts are common in Ukraine and everyone at the table is expected to propose at least one during dinner – Bud-mo!

No matter which tradition you favor, we hope you have the opportunity to toast friends and family this holiday season with a glass of Missouri wine! Cheers!