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The History of Toasting

Aug 17, 2007
Toasting is the strongest and most formal in Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern European countries.

In France, Italy and Spain the toast is even given German names. In Spain and Italy, to toast is called brindar and came from the German phrase "Ich bring dir" which means "I bring it to you".

In France you will hear them say "trinquer" which comes from the German word "trinken" and means "to drink".

And just incase you are wondering where the english phrase "toast" comes from, it comes from the practice of floating a piece of burnt toast on top of the wine of the loving cup. The reason for this was that the toast took away some of the acidity of the wine. Back years ago wine wasn't as good as it is today, so this floating piece of burnt toast worked well to tone down the sharpness of the wine. It was an ancient custom that was popular during the roman and Greek times dating as far back as the 6th Century B.C. After the bowl was passed around and shared by all the people, the host would be the last one to drink what was left and this included eating the wine saturated piece of toast. This was always done in honor of the guests.

There are lots of ways that toasts were done in ancient history, but the main point was that it was an offering from man to his Deity (God). Throughout history, man has always expressed his highest honors to the Deity in the form of a drink and the offering of toasts.

How the Toast Started

Many years ago, in Greece, the people would perform what was called a libation. A libation (an alcoholic drink which is offered as a religious ritual) was considered a prayer and a sharing of wine with the gods. They would stand up and while holding a cup full of wine in one hand, look up into the sky, and pray with both arms and cup raised, then drink the wine. Of course, they realized the gods didn't really share the wine, but they knew their gift was accepted and a connection with the gods were made...

The Group Toast

Drinking to people used to be and still is in many ways the same today as it was done many years ago in Greece. Out of respect, the person performing the toast should stand up, and everybody stands up too. If the person being toasted to is important enough, everybody else must also raise their glasses. If wearing a hat, men should always remove them. While the toast is spoken it is very important to look the person you are toasting to in the eyes. To end the toast, a silent bow or a simple little nod of the head will do. Everyone then sips the wine.

Taking small sips for the toast is the modern and correct way of doing it. A long time ago, you were expected to drink everything in the cup and most often it would be a rather large cup that would be passed around and shared. Today we have our own glasses which we use instead of sharing just one cup.

The Two Person Toast

Toasting is also very popular between two people. In ancient Greek times, this was called "proposes" or "the drink before". The person who initiated the toast sips first and then hands the cup or bowl to the person being honored. If it was a special occasion such as a wedding, the cup itself would usually be a permanent gift to the receiver. For example, a bowl full of wine might be given from a father-in-law to the son-in-law. The cup or bowl would become the symbol of the bride (given away as we still call it) by her father. The two men and two families have now become one through the shared wine.
About the Author
Evelyn Whitaker writes articles for German Toasting Glasses http://www.german-toasting-glasses.com which specializes in custom engraved wedding gifts from Germany.
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