Multiple Theories Behind Clinking Glasses

by Caren on May 29, 2013

clinking glassesI’ve always found it fascinating that no matter where you go in the world, people clink their glasses and simultaneously voice their linguistic equivalent of “Cheers!” It’s “A la votre,” in France; “Prost” in German; “Na zdravi” in Czech, “Kanpai” in Japan, “L’chaim” in Hebrew. (For a list of how to say “cheers” in 50 different countries, click here.)

But why does this tradition even exist? And what’s its origin?According to a recent post on the Bottlenotes website, there are several theories behind the genesis of the clinking custom. They are:

1.During the Middle Ages, when deception and mistrust were commonplace, people would clink glasses so that wine would spill between cups, insuring that one reveler was not attempting to poison another.

2. The sound of glasses colliding would scare away evil spirits hovering in the midst. As written on Bottlenotes: “Many societies all over the world, including ours, practice some kind of noisemaking to scare away demons–bells rung on a wedding day, shouting on the New images-1Year–and perhaps the clinking of glasses was meant to serve the same purpose.”

3. Some believe that the wine experience is meant to satisfy all five senses–it’s color, scent, body and taste take care of four–and that clinking takes care of the fifth.

4. Clinking is meant to be a symbol of the time when everyone at a gathering drank from the same goblet. While everyone now drinks from her own glass, the tradition is a nod to the time when passing one cup around was a chance to bring people together–a sort of group bonding exercise.

Do any of these ring true to you, or do you have another theory about why we clink glasses? If so, let us know…

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