This is the reason we say ‘cheers’ before drinking

Across the globe, making a toast ahead of drinking alcohol is the done thing. In the Netherlands they say ‘proost’, the Czech say ‘na zdravi’, in France it’s ‘sante’, the Italians say ‘cin cin’ or ‘salute’ and the Finnish raise a glass to ‘kippis’.

It’s customary to say ‘cheers’ before sipping your wine at dinner or downing a shot of tequila in the bar on a Friday night. But have you ever wondered why exactly it is we say cheers?

Across the globe, making a toast ahead of drinking alcohol is the done thing. In the Netherlands they say ‘proost’, the Czech say ‘na zdravi’, in France it’s ‘sante’, the Italians say ‘cin cin’ or ‘salute’ and the Finnish raise a glass to ‘kippis’.

All in all we’re wishing each other well, cheers’ing to good health or simply expressing our joy at being together.

According to Mental Floss, it is widely understood that the custom of toasting originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans who gave offerings to the gods during ceremonial banquets. Wine was poured, glasses were raised and those present would announce respect to the dead and to the health of the living.

That’s where the English ‘cheers’ – which means ‘have good cheer’ – is said to have come from.

But why do we call it a toast? There’s no bread. There’s no toaster.

Well, actually there once was. The phrase ‘to toast’ literally comes from the practice of adding a bit of toasted bread to your drink. One of the first accounts of this custom can be found in the Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor: ‘Go getch me a quart of sack put a toast in’t’.

The quality of wine in the Elizabethan era was so poor, drinkers often popped a bit of toast in it to add flavour.

Yum.

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