Toasting Customs from around the World

So I was watching a video on YouTube today, and the anchors made a toast and one of them told the other one to make eye contact when doing so. It surprised me a bit as I am also accustomed to this way of making a toast. Well, I guess we’ve all been there! If you are thinking of how this thing originated, then here it goes. “Augenkontakt” is a German word that translates to “eye contact,” and can sometimes be heard in the presence of German speakers right around the time when glasses are being raised for a toast. Some believe a form of toasting has been around since ancient times when sacrificial libations were offered to the gods. While others say it began by clinking the glasses together so that each drink would spill into the other, easing the fears of poisoning. One of the most popular stories was from the 17th century when it was customary to flavor drinks with toast, hence the origination of the term “toasting.”

I don’t know which story is true, but the custom of toasting is now a universal thing, done in so many different languages – Cheers! Prost! Salud! L’chaim! Toasting is a similar practice involving a drink, a clink of glasses, and a proclamation, however, some cultures have added their twists to the tradition. So what are the different customs that take the toast to another level, well read on to know more!

Toasting with paper wishes in your glasses – There are many superstitions people abide by to make their wishes come true, like silently wishing every time the clock chimes in 11.11 (I’ve done it many times). In Spain and Mexico, during the new year, they eat 12 grapes representing 12 wishes during the final countdown to midnight. Well, in Russia and Ukraine, they wash down their wishes in a champagne toast. On New Year’s eve, they write their wishes for the coming year on a piece of paper and the stroke of midnight, they burn the paper, drop the ashes in a glass of bubbly, and take a big gulp of their hopes and dreams that will supposedly come true in the next 365 days.

A toasting curse – Clinking glasses with water is looked down upon in many cultures as it is believed to bring bad luck or even death upon the recipient, and in some cases, death upon yourself. Did you know that the US military forbids it with Naval folklore claiming that a toast with water will lead to death by drowning? In Spain, toasting with water or any non-alcoholic drink, for that matter, can result in a different kind of misfortune: seven years of bad sex. I would go for an alcoholic beverage for a toast, just saying! Well, that’s not all; in France and Germany, all it takes is breaking eye contact during a toast to ruin bedroom activities for seven long years, and the same fall upon the Czech Republic, so it is not that simple to avoid.

Toasting is a rigorous process where you need to individually toast to the health of each person at the table by saying, “na zdravy!” before taking your first sip. It is important that you look at the other person’s in the eye while toasting and maintain it until the toast is completed. One, don’t spill from your drink, which can be tough when you’re not allowed an initial sip, and two, do not under any circumstances allow your arm to cross over with someone else’s while toasting. That’s what will supposedly trigger the curse on your sex life. Lastly, it would be best if you touched your glass to the table before finally taking a drink. While we’re not sure of the consequence of the final step, we would instead not test the waters to find out.

Toasting until your arm falls off, you pass out, or both – Before heading to Georgia, you might consider doing some biceps curls where the Tamada – the toastmaster, often referred to as “the dictator of the table” – will lead guests in sometimes as many as 30 toasts in a feast called a supra. The toast usually starts traditionally to friends and family both dead and alive, as the alcohol continues to flow, you can imagine the toasts may get a little off course. The Tamada is required to have an iron liver as he must empty his glass with each toast. Also, it is shameful for him to get drunk! Well, that’s something more difficult than we thought. POINT TO REMEMBER – NEVER TOAST WITH BEER IN GEORGIA!

Toasting with insults – It is popular for a group of friends in Australia – mates – to call out insults as they raise their glasses in a toast, and a similar response often follows it. There is not much meaning or any historical significance behind the phrases except that it is funny and it rhymes. It is not necessary to be insulted, and it is not taken as an offense as it is said with a tone of affection.

Toasting with some extra sparkle – In Mexico, there are a lot of unique New Year’s Eve traditions, and one is the addition of a little extra shimmer to their sparkling toasts at midnight. It is believed that if you drop a gold ring at the bottom of your glass before shouting “Salud!” it will guarantee good fortune in the coming year. So if you are planning to attempt this, be cautious of two things: 1. Don’t swallow the ring when you take the drink, and 2. Make sure you don’t do this around a potential partner as it could backfire. Otherwise, bottoms up!