A Toast to the Toast

toastI attended the wedding of my lovely goddaughter last month, and there were a number of toasts proposed at the reception.

A week earlier, I’d attended an awards banquet. There, too, toasts were in abundance.

Each New Year’s Eve, we drink coffee until 11:45 p.m., at which point we pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly, pour it into our glasses, and wait until midnight to toast the new year. (After two glasses of sparkling wine, the effect of all that coffee has been negated, and we are able to fall asleep fairly quickly. I am guessing age, more than science, has something to do with that phenomenon.)

Many theories have been offered about the origin of the toasting ritual. But theories are all we have, because nobody can say with certainty when what we think of as a toast — raising a glass of wine and speaking a few heartfelt words — first took place.

So, I refer you to the International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture, which says toasting “is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words, ‘Long life!’ or, ‘To your health!’”

Another theory traces the practice to the reign of Charles II (1660-1684), and you can read more about that here.

The presumed origins may not be all that romantic, but the toasting practice in the modern world can be very romantic. It also can be motivational, or even humorous. Sometimes we even toast the wine we are about to drink.

Here are five of my favorites, in no particular order and for no particular reason…

  1. To the holidays — all 365 of them.

Note: That’s a good one to use for any occasion when you’re sharing a great bottle of wine with friends.

  1. May you live as long as you like, and have all you like as long as you live.

Note: Ideal for those big moments in life — college graduations, weddings, special anniversaries, retirements.

  1. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye diet.

Note: Perfect for Thanksgiving.

  1. Out with the old, in with the new, cheers to the future and all that we do.

Note: Ideal for New Year’s Eve and easy to remember — important on that particular night — because of the rhyming.

  1. To wine! It improves with age — the older I get, the more I like it.

Note: That certainly has been the case for me. Here’s hoping it’s true for you, too.

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