The Moguls did it. So did the Vikings. “A mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer.” After coining that phrase, you don’t think this anonymous Egyptian from 2200 BC kept it to himself. I can see him raise his drinking vessel to his Nile-side neighbors while repeating the words.
Every country in the world has some sort of traditional drinking toast, often dozens. Usually one or two words, common toasts are not in the same league with toasts to the bride (which can drone on for hours), or to the retiree who’s been with us for 30 years but would rather get to his food while it’s hot. All of these really should be briefer, especially if a meal is being served. The everyday, no black tie, corner pub toasts exist in every culture and the vast majority simply mean ‘I wish you good health’. Not surprisingly it is the English who have strayed from the norm. ‘Cheers’, ‘Down the Hatch’, ‘Bottoms up’ and many more. I always assumed the latter referred to the bottom of the glass, however the Hawaiians have taken this literally. ‘Okole Maluna’ means ‘buttocks up’. I am including a list of multi-national toasts to impress your friends and use as a sign of respect when in the company of people from different cultures.
Here’s a bit of etiquette to go with your cosmopolitan language skills. It is customary to toast the first round, and let the host go first. There is some controversy over the clinking of glasses. It is said that the tradition started as a sly way to test the authenticity of the host’s crystal. Whether the Vikings clinked wooden goblets or not, it is considered more civilized to ‘touch glasses’ rather than bash together in a resounding crash. And while you’re about it, serve on the left and remove from the right!
Toasts From Many Lands
This is just a sampling of simple drinking toasts from around the world. Some are impossible to find in language dictionaries as they are colloquial phrases, slang or in dialect. I apologize in advance for spelling mistakes: I’m no linguist. Meanings have been included when I could find them. Fill in the blanks if you can. Some are just a general ‘cheers’. If you were making a bet on possible translation, you wouldn’t lose money by suggesting that every one of these toasts is wishing the recipient continued health and general well being. My spell check is about to go wild!
za vashe zdorovye (Russian)
slainte duine a ol (Irish) to your health
a sua saude (Portuguese) good health
a votre sante (French) to your health
banzai (long life) (Japanese)or
kanpai (dry glass!) (Japanese)
bud mo (Ukranian)
cin cin (chin chin) (cheers) (Italian) or
alla salute (in good health) (Italian)
proost (Dutch) cheers
vivat (Polish) revival, survival
tervist (Estonian) general greeting
skal (Danish) cheers
here’s looking at you (kid, optional) (American/Bogart)
kia ora (Maori) all purpose greeting
egeszsegedre (Hungarian) to your health
Iechyd da (Welsh) good health
I sveikas (Lithuanian) your health
kippis (Finnish) cheers
le’chaim (Jewish) to life
na zdravi (Czech) to your health
prosit (German) here’s to you (and your health of course)
wen lie (Chinese)
bahkt tu kel (Romany/Gypsy) good luck and health be on you
Here it is folks – oogy wawa (Zulu)
(wawa means ‘fell’, oogy wasn’t listed, any ideas?)
We should all feel well cheered and healthy after all that!