When a host hands you a glass of bubbly, there's rarely concern that the liquid in hand will cost you your life. Yet, in ancient Greek and Roman times, it was a common worry. Back then, raising a glass wasn’t just to toast to the health of the guests, but was also a way for the host to prove that the drink wasn’t poisoned.
The tradition of toasting can be traced as far back as Mughal times in India. Even the Vikings in Scandinavia raised their glasses — well, supposedly the skulls of fallen foes — to honor fellow warriors, or women they liked. Even today, the tradition of toasting remains strongest in countries of German, Scandinavian, and Eastern European influence. As for the word "toast" itself? Some say that the gesture of raising a glass became a toast in 17th-century England during the reign of Charles II, when pieces of spiced toast were dipped in the liquid to impart flavor. Others maintain that the word originated through the custom of sharing a drink with friends by the fire and toasting bread.
To honor the worldly history of the toast, we’re taking a trip around the world and raising a glass as we go. So when you find yourself in Barcelona, you won’t be surprised when your hosts toast to your health and your man parts — it’s said to be a customary phrase. At the very least, you'll find inspiration for a truly unique toast this year — cheers in 15 different languages.
Additional reporting by Serusha Govender.