‘Cheers!’ The history behind raising our glass and saying cheers
In the Netherlands we say ‘Proost’, in France it’s ‘Santé’, in Italy it’s ‘Salute’ and in Czech it’s ‘Na zdravi’. Wherever you go in the world, it’s a general use to say ‘cheers’ before sipping your wine at dinner or taking a shot of tequila with friends in the bar. But did you ever wonder why we say cheers?
There are a few various stories regarding toasting. First story is that toasting is originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans. During ceremonial banquets they gave offerings to the gods. Wine was poured, glasses were raised and those present would announce respect to the dead and to the health of living. On the other hand, some say that during ancient sacrificial libations a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish summarized in the words ‘to your health’.
According to other stories the wealthy would make a toast to indicate that the glasses were made of crystal. Or because in the early years people would often share their wine and drink from just one glass. When they started to all have their own glass, the glasses were brought together once more to emphasize the unity and group feeling.
The word ‘toasting’ literally comes from the ancient practice to add spiced toast to your wine as the seasonings and charcoal from the toast flavoured and tempered the wine.
All in all, nowadays we cheer to wish to each other a good health, or to celebrate a special happening, or simply because we’re happy to be together. But next time when you raise your glass and say ‘cheers’, you’ll know it’s a movement with lots of history.