The word “Cheers” is often heard during every gatherings were drinks are involved.
The Chinese calls it ‘Gan Bei.’ The Spanish calls it ‘Salud’. The French calls it ‘Sante.’ In the Netherlands they say ‘Proost’, the Czech say ‘na zdravi’, the Italians say ‘Cin Cin’ or ‘Salute’ and the Finnish raise a glass to ‘Kippis’.
Across the globe, making a toast ahead of drinking alcohol is the done thing. All in all we’re wishing each other well, cheers’ing to good health or simply expressing our joy at being together. So what started this tradition?, there are many stories surrounding the origin of “cheers”…
According to Mental Floss, it is widely understood that the custom of toasting originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans who gave offerings to the gods during ceremonial banquets. Wine was poured, glasses were raised and those present would announce respect to the dead and to the health of the living.
That’s where the English ‘cheers’ – which means ‘have good cheer’ – is said to have come from.
The tradition of clinking glasses before having a drink has been believed to be derived from the similar practice used by pirates.
So the legend goes this way, after plundering a loot, the pirates assembled and shared a drink. This is followed by dividing the loot among themselves, in order to reduce the number of heads getting a share, some of the drinks were poisoned by one of the fellow pirate. As a solution to this poisoning, the pirates started a tradition of banging(I would not say clinking) the glasses against each other. At that time, the glasses used to drink were wooden. So the vigorous slamming of wooden glasses result in spilling of liquid from one glass to another. If any of the glasses were to be poisoned, all of them would die.
These stories are quiet convincing, but in all, we love the tradition of toasting before drinking.
But why do we call it a toast? There’s no bread. There’s no toaster.
Well, actually there once was. The phrase ‘to toast’ literally comes from the practice of adding a bit of toasted bread to your drink. One of the first accounts of this custom can be found in the Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor: ‘Go get me a quart of sack put a toast in’t’.
The quality of wine in the Elizabethan era was so poor, drinkers often popped a bit of toast in it to add flavor.
Yum. Now you know.. wink