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  • Why Do We Toast Drinks?

  • Humans throughout history have made a habit of basing a great deal of our traditions and

  • customs around food. The curious practice of raising our drink containers is one of

  • the most ancient of these. To answer your question, for starters, well

  • dispel a myth. You may have heard that the tradition of toasting originated out of a

  • fear of poisoning- the idea being that clinking two glasses together would cause the liquid

  • from both to spill into one another; thus, the people youre drinking with wouldn’t

  • poison you as they’d then be poisoning themselves. As interesting as this historical rumour is,

  • not surprisingly, there is not a single shred of evidence backing up this conjecture.

  • As to the real origin, because the practice of honouring through a drink offering seems

  • to have begun in pre-history, it’s hard to say who first got the idea. In fact, most

  • ancient societies show evidence of doing this. The Ancient Greeks would offer libations to

  • the Gods as a ritualistic practice, as well as make a point of drinking to each other’s

  • health. Evidence of this can be found in The Odyssey when Ulysses drinks to the health

  • of Achilles. The Romans placed such an importance on drinking to health that at one point in

  • time the Senate passed a decree that stated that all must drink to Emperor Augustus at

  • every meal. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire even describes a feast where Attila

  • the Hun indulges in at least three toasts for every course.

  • The termtoastitself originated in the 16th century. One of the first written

  • accounts of it was in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor when the character

  • of Falstaff demands - “Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in’t.” To translate,

  • he’s asking for a great deal of wine with a piece of (literal) toast in it. I can hear

  • your disgusted outrage and objections to adding toast to wine, but it was actually quite a

  • common practice at the time. This is thought to be due to the quality of wine in the past-

  • it was in many cases inferior to our modern vintages. Thus, placing a piece of toast within

  • a jug was supposed to soak up some of the acidity and improve the flavour. This also

  • had the side benefit of giving people something to do with a piece of stale bread, often spiced

  • or with fruit embedded, that would improve the bread’s palatability. Up until very

  • recently in history, wasting food just wasn’t something people tended to do, so finding

  • ways to make stale bread taste good was fairly common- waste not, want not. (This was also

  • more or less how French Toast got its start.) Over the coming centuries, the termtoasting”,

  • in English, slowly transformed to incorporate traditional libations and the honouring of

  • people. In the early days of this connection, the person being honoured often received the

  • physical toast saturated with wine at the end.

  • Toasting became so popular in the 17th and 18th centuries that Toastmasters came into

  • being. Acting as a kind of party referee, they were there to ensure that the toasting

  • didn’t become too excessive and that everyone got their fair share of toasting opportunities.

  • This may sound silly, but it was a desperately needed role. If left to their own devices,

  • guests would occasionally go on toasting every individual in the room. (This being a great

  • excuse to drink excessive amounts of alcohol without seeming like a lush.)

  • Elaborate drinking games soon became interwoven with the toasting ritual, and most of them

  • seem to have been designed to impress the ladies. One of the morecharmingexamples

  • of this involves a gentleman cutting himself, mixing the blood with his drink and then toasting

  • to his lady of choice in order to prove his devotion. Shakespeare is once again our authority

  • when it comes to this particular early, bizarre toasting practice. In The Merchant of Venice

  • the King of Morocco talks of stabbing himself and then laments -

  • “I stabbed my arm to drink her health, The more fool I, the more fool I.”

  • Another odd custom of the time involved toasting to a lady’s beauty by drinking from her

  • shoeUnsurprisingly, the sheer excess of these

  • practices, and drunkenness that often ensued, lead to anti-toasting clubs and movements.

  • Although they were unsuccessful, the eventual result was toasting becoming more of a civilized,

  • restrained and intellectual pursuit, rather than one purely designed for imbibing alcohol.

  • There were evenToastmasterbooks published around this time. One of these was The Toastmasters

  • Guide by T Hughes, which strove to instill proper toasting etiquette within the reader.

  • Some of these books include examples of short, appropriate, but also witty toasts that were

  • relevant to all occasions. Examples of these include -

  • Mirth, wine and love. May the works of our nights never fear the

  • day-light. Old wine and young women.

  • Prudence and temperance with claret and champagne. Love without fear, and life without care.

  • May we never want a friend to cheer us, or a bottle to cheer him.

  • A generous heart and a miser’s fortuneEvidence of this change in etiquette is still

  • apparent today, and there are even still Toastmaster Clubs. Furthermore, while we still often include

  • alcohol in our toasting, drinking directly after a toast is usually far more restrained,

  • often just a sip, and more reminiscent of its roots – a practice used to honour someone

  • in a respectful and revered manner, rather than a great excuse to get drunk.

  • As for the aforementioned raising of the drinking vessels and clinking them together, there

  • are a couple of theories surrounding the origin of this, but as with the ultimate origin of

  • toasting, we can only guess. Probably the most popular, and simplest, theory is that

  • people originally did this to raise their drink to the gods or person being honoured

  • in offering, before taking a drink themselves. As to the clinking, this perhaps has similar

  • origins of symbolically offering your drink to the people around you in a general toast.

  • Bonus Fact: • A word that tends to go hand in hand with

  • toasting, “cheers”, or in Medieval timescheres”, derived from the Anglo-French

  • word forthe face’. If we go a little further back, in Old French the wordchiere

  • meantface, countenance, look, expression.” By the late 14th centurychereshad

  • evolved tocheereand came to mean a mood that was reflected in the face. By the

  • 18th century, it had come to mean gladness and it began being used to show support and

  • encouragement. Considering that wine, or alcohol in general, is something we drink in both

  • celebration and lamentation, it’s hardly surprising thatcheerseventually became

  • a part of the toasting ritual.

Why Do We Toast Drinks?

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B1 toast drink wine drinking clinking practice

Why Do We Toast Drinks?

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    羅紹桀 posted on 2016/05/15
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