Toasting Trivia: How to Toast Properly

Don't look like a fool at your next party; the proper etiquette for toasting

Most of us have offered a toast or two, or joined in when someone else made one at a party. But did you ever think about why and how people started toasting? Here's some fun trivia:

Did you know:

• Toasting, the word for raising a glass to a honor a friend, is said to come from the Latin "tostus," which means parched or roasted. It refers to the Roman custom of tossing a piece of charred and spiced bread into a vessel of wine. Most sources say the goal was to improve the flavor of the wine; others say the host would eat the soggy bread after everyone had been served. The host or hostess of the party should always be the first one to toast the guest of honor.

• The Scandinavian toast "skol" comes from the word for skull; at one time that was a popular drinking vessel.

• Don't drink when you're the object of the toast; it's like singing happy birthday to yourself.

• Once a toast is made to you, it's considered good manners to stand and return the favor.

• Some historians surmise that clinking glasses together when toasting was done to scare away any evil spirits; still others say clinking glasses is a way of adding a personal gesture to the good wishes being offered.

• Japanese and Chinese culture share common toasts that mean bottoms up! In Japan it's "kampai," pronounced kom-PIE; in China it's "ganbei," pronounced gon-bey.

• When you toast, always look the person in the eye. Otherwise, you might be in for seven years of bad luck; other versions of this warn of seven years of bad sex.

• A Greek host would take the first drink of wine from the communal pitcher to show everyone that it was good stuff and not poisoned and then pass it around. Since we drink from individual glasses these days, a simultaneous toast revives that communal spirit.

• Your toasting wine should be the best one of the evening, since everyone's palate is fresh enough to appreciate its flavors. Later, move into the more affordable stuff.

• One of our favorite Spanish toasts is "Salud, dinero, y amor... y el tiempo para disfrutarlo." It means "health, money, and love... and the time to enjoy them."

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