Ever wondered why people clink glasses before drinking? Well, this is what we all refer to as toasting or cheering. You probably knew that, but the reason behind it is a bit mysterious. Interestingly, a legend goes about that matter, stating that toasting actually makes us feel united. Weird enough? In fact, you may know that unconsciously because every time you toast, you actually show agreement to a specific something. People raise their glasses and toast to show that they are all on the same page. It is a gesture of oneness. What is even more interesting is the fact that toasts can differ according to cultures. Right here, we are going to introduce all about the toasts of Ireland and the cheers. Why Ireland in particular? Well, this culture has a lot of secrets and exciting facts to unfold.
WHY DO PEOPLE TOAST FOR CELEBRATION?
More than a few sources claim that toasting is actually a ritual that dates back to some old times. People in the past used to express their honor, glory, or goodwill through toasting a drink. Some cultures also use very specific drinks. The toast did not always have to be something that people had to honor in, it could be a person. This person is usually someone whom they congratulate or they show agreement with something he stated. Again, toasting has roots in the Western culture and it has been surviving for generations after generations.
To answer the main question, toasting was mainly for verbally expressing honor and goodwill. However, some cultures used it to emphasize beliefs and notions. There was once that nice theory that answers this question through psychological means. The theory states that in order to enjoy an experience, you need to use your entire senses. When you have a drink, you can naturally see it, smell it, taste it and even feel it. However, it has no sound to hear. For that reason, toasting was there to complete the missing sense, which is hearing. You clink the glasses against one another and there is that pleasant sound. Although it was just a random and unproven theory, it was actually nice to approach matters from that angle.
THE INTERESTING HISTORY OF THE TOASTS OF IRELAND
The toasts of Ireland are not that different from other toasts around the world. They usually have the same form, but the term people use differs according to every culture. Anyway, every culture shares some similarities with others and has its own differences and that includes the toasts of Ireland. According to some legendary stories, people in the past used to toast as a sign of concerns about poisoning. Sounds very strange, doesn’t it? To make matters even stranger, they believed that clanking the glasses together would make them identify the presence of poison. They believed so because toasting causes drinks to spill into one another, causing a splash that can reveal the truth. Conversely, there was no clear evidence behind those facts.
According to The International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture, the practice was a sign of sacrifice the ancient people used. The spiritual tradition involved a sacred liquid that people offered to their gods as a way to grant their wishes. It seems that a lot of stories have revolved around the origin of toasting. Another story states that this practice goes back to the 17th century. People at that era used to add flavors to their drinks; the spiced toast was the one commonly used. The word toast refers to that flavor they added to their drinks.
The English Version of the Toasting Story
Seemingly, toasting had a lot of stories that resulted in its existence. There is also the English version of that story. English people say toast when they clank their glasses against one another. Pretty much like every other culture. However, they have a new dimension and a different point of view. They had a popular practice when it came to wine during the 6th Century B.C. In the past, people used to put a piece of a burnt toast on top of the wine. That piece of bread, they believed, used to absorb some of the wine’s acidity, making the drink more delicious. That was why they performed this practice; it made their wine taste better. Especially that wine during the past time was not as good as it is today. Luckily, people nowadays can get ready-made tasty wines.
Besides, the practice included that the bowl from which they take the wine was passed around. So that people can share it and they can all enjoy it. What did they do to that piece of toast? Well, the last person to take his/her share was also granted that piece of toast to eat.
SLAINTE: THE TOAST OF IRELAND
Everybody knows how the English-speaking world toasts. They say CHEERS! However, some countries seemed to have their own slang. Ireland is one of those cultures; it has its very own toasts. While toasting is only a notion, it makes people feel happy when they shout the same thing all at once. The toasts of Ireland are plenty, but one of the most popular toasts is Slainte. The pronunciation of this word is actually different from how you write. Irish people pronounce it as SLAHN-CHE. The word actually goes back to the Old Irish language. The literal meaning of it is Health. Surprisingly, Slainte is not only a toast of Ireland. It is also the name of a drink in some countries in Ireland and Scotland.
Etymology of the Word
The word Salinte is the basic form in Irish Gaelic. According to the Old Irish language, it is an abstract noun that derives from another Old Irish adjective. The old adjective was Slan and it meant “Healthy.” Other sources claim that the word descends from several words in other cultures. One of that word is a Latin one, Salus. It is equivalent to the meaning to the word Salute in Italian, Spanish, and Romanian. All of those cultures sometimes use the word salute as a toast.
There are also other variations to that special toast of Ireland, Slainte. Some people say Slainte mHaith which literally means “Good Health” in Irish Gaelic. On the other hand, Irish Gaelic people respond to the toast with Slainte Agad-sa, meaning “To your health as well.”
QUEEN ELIZABETH II AND HER FAMOUS TOAST OF IRELAND
Back in 2011, Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the Republic of Ireland. The Irish president, Mary McAleese was the one who invited and welcomed her. It was a significant visit in the political history of Ireland. This visit strengthened the bond between the two countries, Ireland and England. It was also the anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings. McAleese believed that the Queen’s visit was the right moment, describing the visit as “an extraordinary moment in Irish history.” Besides, over half the population of Ireland supported the visit.
The speech of the queen was a very significant one. She also fascinated the Irish president with her remarkable speech. After finishing her speech, she gave one of the famous toasts of Ireland, making people even support her more. The Queen’s speech was one of the very few significant toasts of Ireland. She received more support when she began her speech with a few Gaelic words. Queen Elizabeth showed people that she was against the British efforts to eliminate Ireland’s ancient language. She made a positive step in discussing sensitive issues between the two countries and regained people’s respect.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF THE TOASTS OF IRELAND ACCORDING TO EACH OCCASION
Ireland is not only different in how people toast, but it actually has different types of toasting too. Toasting in Ireland is variable depending on the occasion which people are celebrating. Here are some of the most popular toasts around Ireland:
Christmas and New Year’s Toasts of Ireland
Some of the toasts of Ireland belong solely to Christmas and New Year’s; they are very traditional ones.
“Nollaig shona dhuit!” which means “Happy Christmas to you!”
And for the New Year:
“Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit!’ which means “A prosperous New Year to you!”
“Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís.” which means “May we be alive at this time next year.”
Toasts of Irish Weddings
Ireland has its very own traditions when it comes to weddings. They have special customs and ways of celebrating on such big days. Besides, toasting is an important part of any wedding. They also toast on that special day on their way. If you are going to attend the wedding of an Irish friend, here is your guide to how to toast:
“Sliocht sleachta ar shliocht bhur sleachta.” which means “May there be a generation of children on the children of your children.”
On the other hand, there is also a longer toast that most of the people love to recite during weddings.
“Sláinte go saol agat,
Bean ar do mhian agat.
Leanbh gach blian agat,
is solas na bhflaitheas tareis antsail seo agat.”
THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION
“Health for life to you,
A wife of your choice to you,
Land without rent to you,
A child every year to you,
And the light of heaven after this world for you.”
Saint Patrick’s Day Drinking Toast
Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the greatest celebrations in Ireland. It is equivalent to the importance of Christmas all over the world. Now, we will introduce you to the famous toasts of Ireland that people use on that special day. However, we will get into more details about that day later on.
“Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!” which means “May the blessing of St. Patrick’s Day be on you.”
THE CELEBRATION OF SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
Ireland is a country of celebrations. Irish people love to celebrate their special occasions every once in a while. One of their specials celebration days is Saint Patrick’s Day. They also have special toast, among the toasts of Ireland, specifically for this day. People refer to this celebration as either Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick. Not only is it a cultural celebration, but also a religious one. It takes place on the 17th of March. This date saves the death of Saint Patrick who was the prime Christianity supporter of Ireland.
In the early 17th century, Christians used to celebrate that day. It was an official Christian feast day. The Church of Ireland along with the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion verifies that day as one to celebrate. Also, the Lutheran Church and the Orthodox one celebrate it as well. It is a day of celebration to every single Christian.
Significance of the Day
The day honors Saint Patrick as well as the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. However, Ireland is not the only country that celebrates it. There are other countries that observe that day too like Britain, Scotland and Russia. Some parts of Asia also celebrate that day like Korea, Japan, and Malaysia. On the other hand, the day is not only to commemorate the greatness of Saint Patrick. It also celebrates the whole culture of Ireland and its remarkable heritage.
Celebrations of Saint Patrick’s Day
Celebrations always include feasts of food and drinks. St. Patrick’s Day is one of Ireland’s national days, so people wait for it passionately. The celebration of this day usually includes the color green. You’ll find yourself seeing green everywhere. People tend to wear green customs and shamrocks on that special day. You will also see festivals and public parades everywhere. On the other hand, religious rituals sometimes interfere with the ways of festivity. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations attend church services on that day.
Because drinking is part of any celebration, people consume alcohol and whiskey on that day. Historically, there were actually restrictions on consuming alcohol in Ireland. However, the government lifted those restrictions. Thus, people now enjoy their drinks on this day and have their own toasts of Ireland to celebrate the day.
Who was Saint Patrick?
He was a Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Saint Patrick existed in the 5th century and was Romano-British. He was born in the 4th century to a very wealthy family. His grandfather was a priest in a Christian church while his father was a deacon. There was a declaration that he wrote when he went to Ireland. When he was sixteen years old, some Irish raiders kidnapped him and took him as a slave. During the first six years of his abduction, he worked as a shepherd. It was the time where he believed in the existence of God and truly found Him. The Declaration that he wrote stated that God told Patrick to flee to the coast. Because he believed in God, he went there to find a ship waiting to take him back home. He returned to his home and became a priest.
Going Back to Ireland
During that time, Ireland was full of pagans. Patrick decided to go and convert them to Christianity. Thus, he was the first person who brought Christianity to Ireland. A lot of Irish legends also mentioned tales about him. He lived there for many years and succeeded in converting thousands of people to Christianity. After long years, Patrick died on the 17th of March. Downpatrick was the place at which his body was buried. Even after his death, Irish people still remembered him and he became Ireland’s prime saint. The positive impact that St. Patrick had on Ireland gave people something to celebrate until now.
WHISKEY AND THE TOASTS OF IRELAND
Definitely, people toast with drinks. Those drinks are always ones that contain alcohol, including whiskey and beer. As we previously mentioned, Ireland had restrictions over alcohol consumption at some point. However, the restrictions are over now especially on St. Patrick’s Day. There is one thing that most of the people never pay attention to. Whether it is an Irish toast or toasting of any other culture, why do people use whiskey for toasting? As surprising as this may sound, whiskey actually has some benefits. However, the overconsumption of anything can work against us instead of in our favor. A lot of studies have shown that drinking whiskey can have a great impact on your health. So, let’s see what that glass of joy has in store for us.
The Benefits of Whiskey
Consume whiskey in moderation and you’ll reap its benefits while doing one of the toasts of Ireland perfectly. We will list here all the benefits you gain from weight loss. Remember to toast, one of the toasts of Ireland for sure, with every point.
Weight Loss and Diabetes Control
Yes, whiskey can help you lose weight. Conversely, it is not the best way to retreat to when you need to shed some extra pounds. Instead, follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Whiskey help curb your appetite. Surprisingly, whiskey controls the amount of glucose that your liver releases. Well, these points are actually good ones, so toast to them.
Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Whiskey has some antioxidant properties. Thus, it succeeds in combating free radicals and preventing them from forming altogether. Whiskey can inhibit the formation of cancerous cells. SLAINTE TO THE WHISKEY!
Strengthen Your Memory
Whiskey can get you drunk, but it can enhance your memory and boost it as well. It does so by slowing down the formation of dementia through the antioxidants they contain. It gives your life an amazing timeline, for it prevents plaque from building up. This plaque that causes Alzheimer’s and you’ll enjoy a long life with great memories. It can boost your immune system too.
THE RELATION BETWEEN THE TOASTS OF IRELAND AND IRISH LEGENDS
The Irish mythology is an ocean of amazing tales and legends. However, the legends have not directly mentioned the toasts of Ireland, but it gave us an insight into their existence. One of the most popular tales of Ireland involved the leprechauns. They appeared in several movies and tales. Leprechauns are fairies, male fairies actually, who was sly and always drunk. The most famous tales about them involved them trying to get money from the wealthy people. Leprechauns had related creatures called the claurichauns. They looked a lot like them. However, the leprechauns had tiny bodies while the others had taller ones.
Leprechauns and Being Drunk
Well, you may be wondering what the leprechauns’ story has to do with the toasts of Ireland and drinking. The only relation between them was the fact that leprechauns were always drunk. According to some sources, claurichauns were the drunken versions of leprechauns. They were sheep riders and beer and whiskey addicts. Probably, they did the toasts of Ireland every time they drunk. Wondering what they ever did those toasts of Ireland to? Well, they probably toasted to big fortunes and better tricks, for that what they were always good at.
How those fairy creatures treat you depend solely on how you treat them. Leprechauns show despise or respect towards you through treating your beer. They are friendly if you treat them with respect. These creatures would even protect your cellar of wine, beer, and whiskey. On the other hand, they can destroy your cellar if you happen to mistreat them.
So, enjoy the start of the New Year, attend a nice party and dance your heart away. Drink up your favorite glass of wine and do one of the best toasts of Ireland.