Cover: Toasting traditions

Certain customs go along with the ritual of making a toast. To make a formal toast, be sure you have something to say and say it in as few words as possible.

At this time of year festive gatherings with friends and family give us ample opportunity to drink to the health of the evening’s hosts, to celebrate old friends, or simply to say goodbye to one year and welcome in the next.

Certain customs go along with this ritual. To make a formal toast, be sure you have something to say and say it in as few words as possible — no one wants a repeat of that interminable toast Uncle Bill made last year. But we don’t really need a specific reason to raise our glasses; an informal toast can be offered simply to launch the evening’s first round of cocktails or wine. Make sure everyone has been served a drink before proposing a toast, and make eye contact when you tap glasses. Keep in mind that toasting is not done the same way all around the world. If you’re traveling, make sure that you are informed about the appropriate time to offer a toast.

A short history of toasting

Toasting dates back to the Middle Ages when poisoning the enemy was par for the course. Banging overflowing glasses together allowed the two drinks to be mixed and served as a declaration of peace and conviviality. Looking over the drink and straight into the eyes of adversaries helped to assess their reaction and judge their true intentions.

Let’s hope that this Christmas brings friendlier terms to your toasting! On that note, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and cheers to one and all.

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