Ever wondered when you make a toast, what someone else would say in your shoes or if you were somewhere else? Really, would you know what to say, what to do and how to do it? We decided to compare and search out some different toasting customs. Whether it’s a destination wedding, New Year’s coming up, a dinner with new friends, a toast to a great business relationship. Take a look at a few of these to spice up your tradition or better yet, for a special occasion, have several guests be responsible for adding some international toasts to your affair!
Get that bottle of champagne or sparkling wine on ice and read on!
A FEW HOUSEKEEPING NOTES: 1) learn and practice the “Bell to Bell” technique for toasting. The goal is to aim your wine glass bell (the big round part in the middle) to the bell of your partner’s wine glass. On contact expect a long sustained “ding!” which critics of toasting will look around to see who knows how to truly grasp a toast and party. 2) toasts are not appropriate in Muslin societies, alcohol is forbidden and you don’t ask for it, 3) toasts are not common in Egypt. 4) there are no toasts in Pakastan, 5) NOTE OUR TIPS and ALERTS, they are important. Now then, we’ll proceed then you may choose your favorite country to toast with!
Are you in Africa? Your toast should honor those around you, saying something simple that expands to include all guests, you are “extending your best wishes to …” If you are in South Africa, you raise your glasses and say “Cheers!” or, keeping it casual you may clink your glasses and say “Chin Chin.”
Are you in China? The first toast comes from the host. If its directed to you, your next move is to toast to your host. During the meal, toasting continues, be sure to touch below the rim showing respect and after the first glasses touch, tapping on the table for the following toasts along with “gan bei” or bottoms up and “kai Pay” – my favorite, drain your glass! It can be beer, wine or including business etiqette, Chinese white liquors. If you find three glasses when you sit that include a wine glass, a shot glass and other, use the third glass for your choice of drink and toast. The shot glass has a designation for ‘maotai or ‘wu-liang ye,’ a special liquor. It is acceptable to toast with a soft drink, glass of juice, or mineral water. OUR TIP: if you’re a ‘lou wai’ – foreigner, eat something beforehand in case your Chinese hosts test you with their alcohol ‘er gua toe’ [can you say airline fuel-clear, alcohol, potent!]
If you are in India, business meals with drinks served, your host may toast with a ‘cheers’ but toasting is not a normal custom.
If you are in Indonesia, about 90% are Muslins so alcohol won’t be served. But a host with Chinese Heritage may serve alcohol, but there’s no toasting tradition.
If you are in the Phillipines, formal toasts include a toast to Long Life, “Mabuhay!”
If you are in Japan, toasts are the start and finish of parties, drinking and dining gatherings. Usually the host handles this and there’s no obligation to toast in return. The first toast may be ‘Cheers’ or in Japanese ‘kampai’ and the honors go to the most senior hosting person.
If you are in Malaysia, toasts are allowed only if you are with Chinese or Indian hosts, then ‘Yam Sing’ may be said and everyone drinks at the same time.
If you are in Singapore, just toast with a ‘Cheers’. Also ‘Yum seng’ is a Chinese toast you can learn which – another of my favorites, means “Finish drinking!” (my favorite as it means about the same as the “Finish drinking” toast!) Again, there’s no toasting tradition or protocol.
If you are in South Korea: “gonbae,” is your word which means “cheers!” If you hear the toast “wonshot” (one shot-just like it sounds), please empty your glasses in one drink! Formal toasts usually come from the host and it’s good to offer to pay the bill, even though the host will usually decline the offer. OUR TIP ONE: use your right hand when you raise your glass. Bonus points: show extra respect toward the toaster and put your left hand under your right arm as though supporting it. OUR TIP TWO: the minute your glass is drained, it is a cue to your host that you want a ‘refill.’ We love this show of respect and refill notion!
If you are in Taiwan, toasts usually go to an individual. If you are the visitor, you may be toasted by every person at the table! Again, right hand holds the glass with left hand supporting it, OUR TIP: Hold your glass up and return it to the raised position after drinking.
If you are in Thailand, your popular toast is simply ‘Good Luck!’ or in Thai ‘Chai Yo!’
If you are in Vietnam, an occasion may begin with a toast of wine or champagne then finish with tea or coffee. “To your health!” is a typical toast. Allow the Vietnamese host to make this toast. Also appropriate is that the highest-ranking Vietnamese at the table makes the toast even if the host for the evening is a foreign visitor.
If you are in Australia, a ‘Cheers!’ toast is popular and you should return the favor.
If you are in New Zealand, people like to wish each other good health, toasts are informal and to toast to a good business meeting or to imply that the All Blacks (the national rugby team) will win at their next outing.
If you are in the Dominican Republic toast “Salud,” is a common toast and means “health”
If you are in Puerto Rico, U.S., hosts usually offer a toast to the visitor at the first and last meal. Smile and stand with the others after the toast.
If you are in Belarus, please be gracious, learn a few toasts. “Na zdo ro vie” (to your health) and an ancient Polish toast, “sto-lyat” (a hundred years) are worthy!
If you are in Czechoslavakia, a common toast is “Na zdravi!”(to your health), followed by each person clicking their glasses with everyone at the table. OUR TIP: make eye contact with each person you click glasses with, or you will be considered rude.
If you are in Slovak, the toast is “Na zdravie!”
If you are in Hungary and dining, men pour the wine. OUR ALERT: it is considered unfeminine for women to pour wine. When toasting, make eye contact, raise your glass up to eye level, say “Egészségére!” (for your health), take a drink, make eye contact again, and then place the glass back down on the table. Usually the guest of honor proposes the first toast which generally salutes the health of the individuals present. At the end of the meal, someone toasts the hosts in appreciation of their hospitality. An empty glass is immediately refilled so if you do not want more to drink, leave your glass ½ full. BEER DRINKERS ALERT: never clink glasses if drinking beer.
If you are in Poland, you can expect frequent toasting throughout the meal. The host offers the first toast. OUR TIP ONE: Do not begin drinking until your host has proposed a toast to everyone at the table. If your host stands when proposing a toast, so should you. Also, toasts are only made with hard liquor (generally vodka). You should reciprocate with your own toast later in the meal. OUR TIP TWO: If you propose a toast it is important to maintain eye contact, also toast your hosts to the success of the business venture. A safe, common toast is “Na zdrowia,” pronounced nah ZDRO-vee-ah (To your health). Expect small glasses so you can swallow in one gulp.
If you are in Russia, begin eating only after someone makes a toast. ALERT: even if there’s no alcohol on the table-nearly impossible- trust us, toasting is a very important part of dining. Toasting is common, the host starts and guests reply. DO NOT drink til the first toast is offered. Russians like to clink their glasses together after the toast. DO NOT clink your glass if your beverage is non-alcoholic. Not drinking in Russia is a huge handicap. It is the means of all communications and getting things done. You will have trouble winning trust if you do not get drunk with your hosts. It is considered the means of breaking down barriors and getting to know the real you. Only the most Westernized circles is this compromised). It is unacceptable to refuse to drink unless you give a plausible excuse (health or religious reasons). OUR TIP ONE: you may smile and pretend that you are drinking, to show you accept the toast and respect those around you. OUR TIP TWO: feel like you’re getting intoxicated? Avoid signing anything!
If you are in the Ukraine, frequent toasts add to a meal and everyone at the table will be expected to propose at least one toast during the meal. The first toast is always from the host, usually to everyone’s health (bud-mo!). The second toast usually welcomes the guest or guests of honor, the third toast is the responsibilty of the guest. Appropriate toasts include: za vas! (here’s to you) and za-ho-spo-da-riv! (here’s to our hosts). OUR TIP: Don’t clink glasses during a toast if your beverage is nonalcoholic.
If you are in Austria, the host of the meal or event will traditionally initiate the event with a toast. No one should raise a glass. The host will lift his or her glass, making eye contact with the most senior guest and say ‘Prost!’ The guest of honor should reply with a toast of thanks at the end of the meal or event.
If you are in Belgium, wait to see if the host toasts before lifting and drinking. A guest of honor can also give a toast. Women may offer a toast and it’s polite to stand for a toast. The Flemish raise glasses twice during a toast. The glass is initially raised during the toast and then at the completion of the toast. When you raise your glass, say “Sante” and to the host or person who buys the drinks.
If you are in the Netherlands, the host gives the first toast! An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. You can use the word ‘proost’ for cheers and look people in the eyes when you clink. If you’re in a small group, clinking glasses is fine, but not necessary. Proost is for beer and softdrinks. Winer’s may say French Sante’ or just a friendly exchange of glances during a rise of the glass which is more important. Feel free to repeat!
If you are in Finland, the host will usually propose a toast to the visitors and to the business relationship. This should be reciprocated with a toast led by the leader of the visiting group. After that, there is no particular protocol, although speeches might be made and further toasts offered.
If you are in France or want a french toast, “a vote santé” (to your health) or “Santé!” or “Tchin” (cheers) are usual toasts, glasses are usually raised and may be clinked before the first sip .
If you are in Germany, the host gives the first toast. An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. The most common toast with wine is ‘Zum Wohl!’ (‘good health’), with beer is ‘Prost!’ (‘good health’). OUR TIP ONE: always touch all the glasses you can reach at your table when someone makes a toast. OUR TIP TWO: Making a toast is important and requires you to maintain direct eye contact from the time the glass is raised, until it is placed back on the table. If in a crowd being toasted, make eye contact with each individual around the table as you make the toast. This rule is really important to remember as you move west to east through Germany.
If you are in Greece, the host gives the first toast and an honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. A common toast is “stinygiasou” meaning ‘to your health’ in informal situations and “eis igían sas” at formal functions. Also “ya mas” meaning “to our health.” Include making a toast to your hosts to a successful business relationship.
If you are in Ireland, toasts are usually reserved for occasions among family or friends, weddings and birthdays, but you may expect an informal toast at a business meal. If you make a toast, keep it short.
If you are in Italy, the host gives the first toast! An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. Women may offer a toast, “Salute!” (to your health) is a common toast, or, more informally, “cin-cin.”
If you are in Norway, expect the host to make a small speech then offer the first toast. Though not expected, it is appreciated if you toasted your host, especially if you are invited to a private home. Usually during a dinner party, there are many toasts throughout the evening and a large dinner party means speeches will take place throughout the evening. You will usually stand to make a toast. On these occasions, the person seated to the left of the host will make a takk for maten (thank you for the food) speech. OUR TIP: If you find yourself seated to the left of the host in this situation, it is unlikely that they will expect you to know that you should make a toast to thank them for the food. If it’s a business dinner, there may not be constant toasting. Use the Norwegian word “skol” for cheers. FORMAL TIP: in a formal toast, look into the eyes of the person being toasted, give a slight nod, then ‘sal Skal.’ Before putting your glass down, meet the other person’s eyes and nod. Women may offer toasts. OUR TIP TWO: Toasts are made with alcoholic beverages, NOT beer. When someone is being toasted, raise your glass, look at the person, take a sip, look at the person again, then return the glass to the table. OUR TIP THREE: Women MUST put down their glasses first after a toast.
If you are in Portugal people usually toast to health, “Saude!” (pronounced sah-ood), or just say “Tchin tchin.”
If you are in Spain, the host gives the first toast, then honored guests should return the toast later in the meal. A typical toast is “Salud,” (good health). A woman can make a toast.
If you are in Sweden, a usual toast is ‘ skål’, pronounced ‘skoal.’ TIP ONE: Do not consume your drink until the host or hostess has said ‘ skål ‘; only then, take your glass and raise it. Always wait for the host to say ‘welcome’ before you sip your wine. A welcome toast will always be said with the wine, NOT with the aperitif. Wait for the host or hostess to make the first toast; after that, you can propose one. Maintain direct eye contact from the moment the glass is raised to the moment it is placed back down on the table. If many people are being toasted, make eye contact with each individual as you make the toast. TIP TWO: allow hosts and seniors in rank and age to toast first. After making a toast, the men wait for the women to put their glasses down first. Do this immediately. It can be annoying for men to wait too long for women to put their glasses down. TIP THREE: Do not begin eating until the host has proceeded to do so.
If you are in Switzerland and you are proposing a toast, make sure everyone has been served a drink (whether it is wine or mineral water) then say, “Prost” (cheers, in German). If you are toasting in a German-speaking Switzerland say, “prost”; in French-speaking Switzerland say “votre santé” or simply “santé”; in Italian-speaking Switzerland, “salute.” After your host has proposed a toast, look directly at him or her and respond, preferably in the local language. Then, clink glasses with everyone at the table, or at least those within your reach. Only then may you take your first sip.
If you are in Israel, the toast “lechaim” (to life) is said whenever alcohol is served and only made at formal occasions or sometimes when a contract is signed. It is acceptable to just touch the glass to your lips if you don’t wish to drink the contents.
If you are in the United Arab Emirates, simple and informal toasts are easy, raise that glass and say “cheers,” if you’re in a more formal gathering with a speech, glasses are all be raised in a group response saying “Cheers.”
If you are in Columbia, allow the host to be the first to make the toast; then you might wish to make one.
If you are in Belize, the first toast given during a dinner is normally offered at the beginning of the meal and traditionally by the host welcoming guests. Toasts offered by others start during the dessert course.
If you are in Costa Rica more often than not toasts are made! Traditionally, the host or hostess offers the first toast. Around a table with friends, however, a guest can propose the first toast (and often does), usually as a way to thank the host for bringing everyone together. The “host toasts first” rule does still apply at receptions and other large functions (though the best man usually leads the toasting at a wedding reception). Make sure that all glasses are filled before toasting. The glasses don’t have to hold champagne or wine; nondrinkers may toast with water, juice, or a soft drink. Ticos make toasts to their families mostly as the core of their daily lives. The first toast is traditionally by the host, is normally offered at the beginning of the meal welcoming guests. Toasts offered by others start during the dessert course.
If you are in Salvador, if you propose a toast, people raise their glasses and say “Salud!” You should always offer your own toast and say that you are pleased to be in El Salvador after hearing so much about it and commend the people for treating you in such a family-like manner. Also at the beginning of a meal, someone says “Buen provecho!” (Enjoy your food!) This is a most common social toast, and while not said as a toast in a strict sense , it’s a must for anyone eating with Salvadorans.
If you are in Nicaragua, the host or hostess usually offer the first toast, but a guest can propose the first toast among a table of friends. The host toasts first” rule does apply at large functions or receptions. Make sure all glasses are filled before toasting including nondrinkers with water, juise or soft drink.
If you are in Guatemala, a standard toast is given by the host during the meal and means raising your glass and saying “Salud!” Always offer your own toast: say how pleased you are to be in Guatemala and commend everyone for treating you in such a family-like manner.
If you are in Panama, you can say “Salud!” (health) before a drink. but there’s no typical toast or protocol.
If you are in America, the Great, the United States, as the guest of honor you are toasted and should reciprocate by giving a toast of thanks. A simple, informal toasts involves raising a glass and saying “Cheers.” At more formal gatherings, glasses are raised in response to a speech, and a group response is evoked.
If you are in Canada, a simple, informal toasts involve raising a glass and saying “Cheers.” At more formal gatherings, the host gives the first toast, glasses are raised in response to a speech, and a group response is evoked. The host normally offers first toast. Wait until everyone is served wine and a toast is proposed before drinking. It is acceptable for women to propose a toast. Honored guests should return the toast later in the meal. OUR TIP: If you are invited out to a pub in Canada, keep in mind that each person is expected to pay for a round of drinks. Neglecting your turn to pay for a round will create a bad impression.
If you are in Mexico, only men give toasts and the common toast is “Salud!” (for health) The most senior host or visitor usually initiates a toast.
If you are in Argentina and are toasted, return the favor. In Argentina, ‘Salud!’ or ‘Cheers!’ are popular toasts.
If you are in Bolivia, the host makes the first toast so wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink. The common toast is “Salud!” When you lift your glass, be sure to look at the person being toasted.
If you are in Chili, wait for the first toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink, this is done by the host. The common “Salud!” includes lifting your glass and looking at the person being toasted. If you are toasted, return the favor. In Chile, ‘Salud!’ or ‘Cheers!’ are popular. Before taking the first sip of a drink, you say “salud,” which means “to your health,” and be sure to look your host in the eyes. OUR BUSINESS TIP: If a formal business proposal is being discussed, be sure to toast to the success of the future deal, contract or agreement or to the person or company involved.
If you are in Ecuador, toasts are are usually unscripted, made standing up and are directed to visitors. Stand til all present have had a taste of wine and then the visitor will be expected to reciprocate.
If you are you in Peru, “salud” is said for a toast, and everyone lifts their glasses and drinks the first sip at the same time. OUR TIP: It is rude for a visitor to start drinking alone (for the first drink). Once a business deal has been achieved, the host may make a more formal toast. The guest may respond with a brief speech or may simply smile and thank the host.
If you are in Venezuala, wait for a toast to be made BEFORE taking the first sip of your drink. Venezuelans typically toast with the word ‘salud’ and the host makes the first toast. Toasts are common in Venezuela, and it’s not unusual for a host to offer a toast in honor of a visitor. A toast of this kind should be acknowledged with a smile and a cheerful attitude. OUR TIP: A visitor should be careful not to drink before the toast or while the toast is being offered, as this may be considered insulting.
Where in the world do you want to be for a toast to life? Wild Side Destinations & Destination Weddings.travel is your specialist, your travel your way!
With a love of the bubbly, and some important TIPS, toasting and respect for other culture go hand in hand. If in doubt, look it up, our meltdown here is a reference with customs forever changing!
Cheers, salud, salute, prost and a smile! by Pamela (PJ) Ott, Director of Romance
PS: Yes, this is but Part I, stay tuned for more Celebrations and Toasting Tips!