The gesture of sharing a drink is a universal language of friendship and celebration around the world. But the specific word or phrase that accompanies the act varies from country to country. Here's how to say "cheers!" no matter where your travels take you.
Argentina: With some of the best wine in the world, Argentina is known for its toasts. "Like many other Spanish-speaking countries, Argentinians conclude their toasts with salud," says Sharon Schweitzer, a culture and international etiquette expert.
Belgium: Belgians have a particular style of toasting. "They raise their glass during the verbal toast and say santé, then raise the glass a second time while exchanging glances with others at the table before drinking," says Schweitzer.
Brazil: "In Brazil, raise your glass and make eye contact with your drinking companions while wishing them saúde or tim-tim (“to your health!”)," says Schweitzer.
China: "In China, the toast ganbei means “bottoms up” and kai pay means “empty your glass,” with the expectation that you do a shot or empty the glass all at once," says Schweitzer. Once you’ve had enough and want to discontinue the bottoms-up approach, says Schweitzer, say sui bian, which roughly translates to, “Please proceed your way, and I will do it my way.”
Costa Rica: Costa Ricans toast by saying pura vida, which means pure life, says Schweitzer. In Costa Rica, this phrase is more than just a toast — it’s a way of life.
Czech Republic: "The Czech toast with a merry na zdraví ('to your health!') said at formal and informal occasions," says Schweitzer.
Denmark: "In Denmark, one should wait until the host wishes everyone skål or before taking a sip of their drink," says Schweitzer. Propose a toast by tapping your glass with your spoon, but never toast to someone senior in age or rank.
Finland: To make a proper Finnish toast, says Schweitzer, raise your glass of vodka, aquavit, or koskenkorva, and say kippis. To offer a more formal toast, say maljanne, meaning “your glass.”
France: To toast à la francaise, wish your friends à votre santé (“to your health”), said at informal and formal occasions. "Be sure to maintain eye contact as you clink glasses, only taking a drink until after you’ve acknowledged each person present with a direct gaze and hearty toast," says Schweitzer.
Germany: In Germany, hearty toasts of prost (cheers) or zum wohli (to your health) are made around the table, says Schweitzer. Each person clinks their glass and makes friendly eye contact before enjoying a sip of beer or wine.
Greece: In Greece, the proper toast depends on the occasion. Stinygiasou means “to your health,” and is an informal toast offered to one person. Eis igian sas also translates as “to your health,” but is reserved for formal occasions with three or more people. Kali epitihia is said when wishing someone good luck and success, says Schweitzer.
Hong Kong: "The Cantonese toasts include yum bui (cheers) and yum sing (bottoms up)," says Schweitzer. Raise your glass and make eye contact when toasting.
Hungary: In Hungary, says Schweitzer, a proper toast is made by saying egészségedre “to your health” or fenékig “until the bottom of the glass.”
Italy: "When toasting in Italy, take your pick between the toasts salute, alla salute,and cin-cin," says Schweitzer. All of them mean “to your health” and may be said at any occasion.
Japan: In Japan, the host may offer the first of many toasts after everyone has been served their meal. Sometimes the toast is said by all in unison. "Honored guests reciprocate toasts," says Schweitzer. Kampai in Japanese means “cheers.”
Mexico: In Mexico, raise your glass by saying salud! The literal translation is “health,” or cheering to one’s health.
Netherlands: "In the Netherlands, the Dutch toast by saying proost, sipping their drink and repeating the toast," says Schweitzer. Tablemates then catch one another’s eye and clink their glasses before setting it down on the table.
Philippines: Toast to health or business prosperity in Tagalog by saying mabuhay, says Schweitzer, meaning “long life.”
Russia: Russians are known to toast before every round of drinks, but there is a specific order in which toasts are proposed. "It begins with the host thanking the guest and the reason everyone has gathered together because it's not customary to drink without a reason. The second toast is generally to honor one’s parents. The third is to thank the host. After which a number of toast will be proposed no matter the occasion," says Schweitzer.
Scotland: With frequent festivities, it is not uncommon for a toast to occur at any social gathering. The formal “cheers” is the Gaelic slàinte.
Serbia: In Serbia, toasts are usually made with traditional rakija (brandy), often home distilled. "Toasts are made by clinking glasses, making direct eye contact and loudly proclaiming ziveli, meaning “Let’s live long”. Speeches are only made during formal events both by the host and a few guests," says Schweitzer.
Singapore: Though toasting isn’t common in Singapore, Singaporeans generally stand to offer and receive a toast. "The person giving the toast holds his or her glass with both hands and makes eye contact while speaking," says Schweitzer. The recipient holds his or her glass with the right hand and thanks the person who gave the toast.
South Africa: “Cheers’ in Afrikaans is gesondheid which translates to “to your health.”
South Korea: Toasting is common in South Korea. The host offers the first toast and the guest of honor returns the gesture. "At formal occasions, the custom is to lift the glass in your right hand while using the left to support the forearm. A common toast is gonbae or “bottoms up.” A formal occasion toast is wihayo or “health and prosperity," says Schweitzer.
Spain: In Spain, people drink to your health with a hearty salud, or salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo — to health and love, and time to enjoy it. An informal “cheers” is chin-chin.
Sweden: In Sweden, as in many European cultures, the host makes the first toast, followed by those senior in age or in rank. "The proper Swedish toast is skal, or “cheers,” and it is used at both formal and informal occasions. Those present raise their glass, make eye contact with the recipient of the toast, and then take a drink," says Schweitzer.
Taiwan: Toasting is common in and may take place frequently during a meal. The glass is raised with both hands, one supporting the bottom, and eye contact is maintained. "Ganbei means bottoms up. The group is expected to do a shot, or empty the glass all at once. If you do not wish to continue the bottoms up approach, politely say suei yi, which roughly translates as ‘drink to your liking,'" says Schweitzer.
Tanzania: The proper toast in Swahili (spoken in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda) is maisha marefu or “a long life.” The informal afya ("good life"), or vifijo (“cheers”) can also be used.
Ukraine: Ukrainian dinners are filled with frequent toasts. "The host begins the night with budmo or 'shall we live forever.' Afterwards, each attendee is expected to propose a toast cheering the formal za zdorovie," says Schweitzer.
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