CHEERS! You’re having a night out. Drinks are on the table. Everyone gets together in a circle of sorts, glasses are raised and you say cheers before enjoying your favourite poison. This age old tradition of toasting – ever wondered where it came and started from?
The ancient Greeks had the habit of poisoning the punch they served. Clinking glasses was a gesture of good faith and of hopes that the poison would revert to its owner . It was also a way of warding off evil spirits.
As irrelevant as it may sound in today’s world, it has become a drinking etiquette. Cheers, clink and chug. Different cultures toast in their own way. Let’s bridge the gap and explore a few of those cheers and toasts.
The German Toast
“Prost” and “Zum Wohl” means toast and to your well being. Eye contact is important and should be maintained. Clink your glasses and sip away. If it is a huge group, it is not necessary to clink glasses with everyone, but it is expected if you are in a smaller group.
The Italian Toast
Italians are an expressive lot. Their body language usually tends to do the talking. It is uncommon for the Italians to drink without dining. Just drinking alcohol without food is frowned upon. In the Italian culture, the host of the event or party would initiate the first toast. “Salute” or “cin-cin” while raising your glasses, clink and drink. The Italian toasts are usually to good health.
The Chinese Toast
The Chinese go all out with their toasts. Usually every guest is expected to toast at least once in the course of a single meal. ‘Loud and fun’ is the perfect description of a chinese toast.
Never pour a drink with your left hand. Hold your glasses together and make sure that the glasses touch at the rim. Maintain eye contact with the person opposite you and belt out a loud “Yam-Seng”! Drag the word “Yam” for as long and loud as you can before finishing with a short and sharp “Seng “. When toasting “Yam-Seng”, always finish your drink. It is the equivalent to the English’s bottoms up.
The Chinese drink to Success. But beware if you are a foreigner amongst them – Your alcohol tolerance will definitely be put to the test.
The very subtle nature of the Japanese offer an equally simple drinking etiquette. Never drink alone and always offer a polite cheers. “Kanpai”, pronounced as “gahn-pie” means empty cup or bottoms up.
Traditionally you are expected to finish the small cup of sake offered. Ever since beer came into the picture, a sip is accepted. You definitely don’t have to drink the whole glass down. Clinking of glasses is not part of the culture. Just raise your glass, “kanpai ” and drink away.
The Russian Toast
The Russians are quite an interesting lot. They love people to be a part of their culture. No one should even start drinking or eating at a table without making a polite toast to show that they are aware of their surroundings and would like to share the pleasure. Dining is always accompanied with alcohol.
“Na zda-ró-vye” is a famous Russian phrase that actually is not a toast at all. It actually means thank you, especially when thanking someone for a meal. Generally Russians drink to good health saying “vashee zda-ró-vye” which means your health. Well with the Russians, you toast, drink and then clink your empty glasses.
Exploring different cultures with different drinking etiquettes is a fun way to begin your night. Nothing gets the ball rolling better than your favourite poison. So cheers, clink and chug away to languages of the world, but always remember to drink responsibly.