Following up from our last post, the tradition of imbibing needs a bit more discussion. To be sure, making new friends is surely one of the best parts of the holiday season whether outdoors or traveling afar. Knowing a few ways to wish health and good cheer to others is a useful skill. Interestingly, this is not something that’s relegated to a single country; years ago I spent half a night’s drinking in Munich’s Hofbrauhaus with a team of Japanese businessmen that started with a simple and hearty “Kampai!” Still, travelers in the know realize that it can be a bit more complicated than that when etiquette and context are considered. Here’s a few examples:
In Germany, there are different ways to toast depending on the drink:
Beer: “Prost!” (regardless of the occasion)
Wine: “Prost” with friends and “Zum Wohl” in a more formal environment
Cocktails: Specific toast such as “Auf uns!” (To us!) or “Auf Dich!” (To you!)
Schnapps: Toast such as “Hau’weg das Zeug!” (Down the hatch!) but “Prost” is fine as well.
Whiskey/Whisky: use “Cheers!” or a toast like “Auf Schottland!” (To Scotland!), never “Prost”
In Russia, no one says “Na zdorovje” as a drinking cheer. Perhaps because this toast is used in many Slavic countries people assume it is also used in Russia. While it does mean “To your health,” Russians only say it as a reply to “Spasibo” (thank you) much like people use “Cheers” in the UK. So while it might seem strange given the importance of drinking and the tradition of toasting in the country, there is no universal drinking cheer in Russian. Sometimes people say “Budem zdorovy” (Let’s stay healthy) or “Chtob vse byli zdorovy” (Let everybody be healthy) or shortened to just “Budem” (in Ukranian). After a toast, it’s common to clink their glasses together but not if you are drinking something non-alcoholic.
In Asia, it’s understandably a bit more complicated. In many countries, toasting and saying cheers is not common and not just for religious reasons. For example, in India where at business people may just say cheers but not in other occasions. In Japan, “cheers” is typically said at the beginning and the end of a meal, while in Singapore there is no set protocol. In China, a number of terms are used including, “Yung sing” (drink and win), in Cantonese “Gom bui” (dry the cup) and in Mandarin “Gan bei” (dry the cup). On the mainland, toasting is an important part of formal occasions. The host makes the first toast and usually continues throughout a meal. If it’s for a quest, a return toast should be given. Luckily, given the eagerness to drink, it is possible to join the cheers using a non-alcoholic beverage.
Happy Holidays Everyone!Tags: adventure, health, travel