Toasting Etiquette Around the World


One of my favorite things to do is celebrate. Even if there isn’t a birthday, engagement or retirement on the weekend agenda, I will find a celebratory-worthy occasion to raise a glass to. Last weekend it was my dogs first birthday ‘pawty’ where we toasted with ‘paw-secco’ and ‘pupcakes’; yesterday it was to 80 degree and sunny Saturdays in February. It’s these small memorials where my some of my greatest memories lay revered.

Though, it wasn’t until I started teaching dining etiquette classes, that I put too much thought into the origins or the protocol of this ancient tradition.  Have you? Do you know more or less about toasting than you think?

While nobody really knows the exact origin of toasting, my favorite version is the one that involves toasting as the result of the fear of being poisoned. The myth is that it was easier to poison someone than to deal with social barriers such as silencing competition or a messy divorce. Clinking two glasses together would cause the liquid from both to spill into one another, thus, minimizing the likelihood of a spiked cocktail.

A probably more realistic theory, however, dates back to the 16th century when toast was placed into bottles to soak up the acidity of the wine, also adding flavor to stale bread helping not to waste old food.

Either story you chose to believe, the fact is that toasting has evolved into a global tradition done to honor people. And yet as most cultural traditions, if not understood and practiced with cultural awareness the tribute could be less of a toast and more a personal roast.

Since all toasts are not created equal, I’ve created a handy starter cheat sheet for the next time you are traveling and feel obliged to call recognition to a fellow mate.



About Aly Murphy

Aly Murphy is an international etiquette consultant based in Charleston, SC. She previously lived in Manhattan while she studied the history, social psychology and neuroscience...

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