Wedding Traditions - Origins of the ToastIn today's society, many of our social customs all deeply tie themselves to food. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years have specific food and table traditions. Many other occasions, such as birthday parties or weddings use another nearly universal tradition: Toasting. The act of raising a glass for someone else comes naturally, and it is seen in nearly every culture around the world. This strange ritual of raising a cup to drink to happiness, prosperity, or good health of another dates back before recorded history.
|Ancient Greeks were thought to be one of the firsts to do this. It is thought that the Greeks would lift a glass to show respect to the gods, as well as to each others health. It is also conjectured that the act of pouring from a community pitcher, then everyone drinking at the same time would prevent poisoning. Even in the Odyssey, which was immensely important to the Greek society, Odysseus is seen toasting in the name of Achilles
Following the tradition of Romans emulating the Greeks, and then further building upon their foundations, Roman society continued the practice of toasting. The Roman Senate even passed a bill that made it mandatory for every citizen to raise a glass in the name of Augustus Caesar. Romans were also thought to be the first to put pieces of burnt bread in the actual wine itself, as the charred bread would neutralize the acidity of unfavorable wine. This gave birth to the idea of using “toast” during a toast.
The actual term for toasting originated much later, during the Elizabethan Era. Legendary writer and wordsmith, William Shakespeare wrote Falstaff, a character from his Merry Wives of Windsor, to explicitly request toast to be put into his drink. One hundred years later it was the norm to propose toasts in honor of heroes, royalty, beautiful women, and friends alike. By the beginning of the 19th century, it was completely normal for nearly every glass at a table to be dedicated to another individual.