I’ve had a rule for as long as I’ve been drinking that if someone clinks your drink, you drink. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stranger and you’re walking by them on the way to meet the man or woman of your dreams, if the glasses touch, you shall imbibe.
Not everyone abides by this rule. Some people I know, myself included, are offended when this occurs. It’s a form of celebration and agreement, and unless you are not happy about the ongoings surrounding the clinking of glasses, or you disagree with the person suggesting the toast, you better partake. It’s a matter of respect!
Whether or not you feel the need to touch your glass to someone’s, if a toast is made, a sip is taken.
With all the beer drinking and wedding going I’ve been doing lately, there have been a lot of glasses touching one another. I’m curious what history has to say for itself on this topic.
In days of yore, it was common for everyone gathered for some sort of celebratory event to each drink from the same flagon or vessel in celebration. This communal experience has gone away for the most part – imagine everyone at a wedding passing around a giant pouch of wine, or waiting in line at a cask to drink from it’s spout. The communal aspect is now achieved with everyone drinking from their glasses at the same time.
What about the touching of glasses itself? Some say that this is a custom based on self preservation. According to these stories, the touching of glasses would cause a splash of the contents of the joined vessels to swap, essentially mixing each toaster’s glass with the other’s. Should one of the parties be attempting to poison the other, this ritual would cause both glasses to become tainted. Therefore, it was a safety precaution.
I’ve toasted many people, and I must say, I don’t think there has been any transfer of fluids through this particular activity. Not directly at least.
With the idea of swapping potentially poison laden beverages, it’s also been suggested that in said times of yore, people would actually pour a little of their glass into the other person’s, and vice versa. This sounds much more feasible, but doesn’t explain the clinking. One idea is that we clink to express trust in the other person, symbolically gesturing a swapping of beverages without the need to actually do so.
Then again, I’ve also hear that the entire poisonous idea is based on a plot twist in one of Alexandre Dumas’ books.
Another theory is based on some sensory psychology. Prior to the clinking of glasses, a toast among friends accessed four of the five senses. The addition of a pleasant clink completes the sensory set.
Whatever the true history of the toast, the clink, and the drink, I abide and imbibe, and I hope you do too. Do you follow these rules? What are some of your favorite toasts?
And with that, I bid adieu. May your house always be too small to fit all your friends.
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