Whether you’re spending New Year’s Eve dressed to the MILF-a-luscious nines with Prince Charming sipping champagne from your glass slipper-or whatever the male equivalent to that scenario might be, perhaps eating caviar off of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker’s naked belly?-or you’re at a house party yawning as you watch the East Coast ball drop, chances are good that somebody in the room will make a toast.
Why not make a bagel or a baguette you might ask? I did and it turns out that no one is quite sure where exactly the term came from.
Some speculate that “toasting” comes from an old Roman practice of dropping a piece of toasted bread into wine to temper the taste of bad wine by reducing its acidity.
According to some legends, the custom of touching glasses evolved from concerns about poisoning. If you clinked your glasses hard enough it would cause each person’s drink to spill over into the others, thus ensuring it was safe to drink (or you’d both die together).
Webster’s says that the word originally referred to the lady in whose honor the drink was proposed, her name being seen as figuratively flavoring the drink. Other stories associate the custom with a 17th century practice of flavoring drinks with spiced toast.
The International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture (the authors should certainly know all about this stuff, whether or not they can stay sober enough to remember it is another story) says toasting “is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words ‘long life!’ or ‘to your health!'”
Regardless of where they came from, toasting opportunities will no doubt be coming your way this holiday season. Here are some of my personal favorites:
“May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.”
– Inuit proverb
“If you can’t be merry at Christmas, (or on New Year’s Eve) then you can drive the rest of us home when we are!”
– Mark Bromberg
“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”
– Joey Adams
“Here’s to holly and ivy hanging up, and to something wet in every cup.”
– Ogden Nash
“May all your joys be true joys, and all your pain Champagne.”
“Here’s to us that are here, to you that are there, and the rest of us everywhere.”
– Rudyard Kipling
“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
“Here’s wishing you more happiness Than all my words can tell, Not just alone for New Years Eve?But for all the year as well.”
“In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, and never in want.”
– Irish toast
“(A toast to my) New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”
– James Agate
“As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.”
Cheers to a New Year! As T.S. Eliot wrote, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”
And one final thought from Ellen Goodman, who should probably always have the last word: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.”