There is no better way to get to know a person or a culture than by sinking a few brews with the locals. And sure the *clink* of two glasses is a pretty universal pre-sip salute, but it doesn’t hurt to know how to say cheers in the local language either.
The United Kingdom – English
Toast: Cheers (pronounced cheers)
Meaning: Expressing good wishes – or cheers just means cheers
Did You Know: The term “toast” as in “to toast to someone or something” before drinking, comes from 17th century England. Back in the 17th Century wine wasn’t very good and people used to add spiced bread to their drinks to cut the harshness of the sour wine. Because of this when people proposed a drink they would call it “toasting” on account of them putting actual toast in their drinks before drinking them.
South Africa/ Namibia – Afrikaans
Toast : Gesondheid (pronounced ge-sund-hate)
Did You Know: To Politically engage the youth of South Africa one radio host initiated a drinking game on the State of the Nation Address (SONA), called the SONA drinking game. During the speech, the audience at home listens for keywords and when they hear them they take a shot… By the end, they might not remember much of the speech but it did somewhat increase political engagement.
Egypt – Arabic
Toast: فى صحتك (pronounced fe sahetek)
Meaning: Good Luck
Did You Know: If you’re visiting an Egyptian family, especially one with daughters, and they serve you juice you have to finish it. If you don’t finish the juice, it is believed that the daughters then won’t get married.
China – Mandarin
Toast: 干杯 / gān bēi (pronounced gan bay )
Did You Know: When toasting in China it is tradition that the elders hold their glasses higher than the youth. You also have to down the first drink in one and place your glass upside down to show nothing is left.
Czech Republic – Czech:
Toast: Na zdravi (pronounced naz–drah vi)
Did You Know: The Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than any other country!
Denmark – Danish
Toast: Skål (pronounced skoal)
Meaning: cheers or good health
Did You Know: Skål dates back to the Viking times and, according to legend, was a Viking tribute made to their gods while drinking wine from bowls made of the skulls (skalle) of their enemies.
Holland – Dutch:
Toast: Proost (pronounced prohst)
Did You Know: The Kopstootje, or “little head butt”, is a centuries-old way of drinking in Holland. A tulip-shaped shot glass is filled to the brim, you put your hands behind your back, bend over from the waist and sip the top of the (normally whiskey) drink. You then drink the rest of the beverage normally and follow it with a beer or cider.
Finland – Finnish
Toast: Kippis (pronounced kip-pis )
Did You Know: The Fins have a word for drinking at home, alone in your underwear: kalsarikännit. If you don’t want to type the whole word it’s also popularly communicated in emojis made specifically for the phrase.
France – French
Toast: Santé! and the response Á la tienne! (pronounced: Sahn-tay / a la tea – en )
Meaning: To your health / To yours
Did You Know: There are a lot of customs when it comes to drinking, especially wine, in France. You shouldn’t, for example, pour your own drink, drink your wine too fast or drink beer with dinner. When clinking glasses you must look the other person in the eye and avoiding crossing over anyone else’s arm.
The Philippines – Tagalog
Toast: Mabuhay or Tagay (pronounced mah-boo-hay or tah-guy)
Meaning: To life! or Shot!
Did you know: The tradition of Tagayan has been a part of Philippino culture since anyone can remember. A common glass is passed around a group by a “tanggero” and after each person does a shot, or “tagay”, the whole group cheers.
Germany – German
Toast: Prost / Zum wohl (pronounced: prohst / tsum vohl)
Meaning: Cheers/ to your health
Did You Know: At the age of 16, in Germany, you can legally order and drink wine and beer (but not spirits or other hard liquor).
Greece – Greek
Toast: ΥΓΕΙΑ (pronounced yah mas)
Did You Know: There is a traditional drinking game in Greece called koupa. It’s quite simple, when sitting around a table with a group of people one of you says the name of another, the person whose name is said finishes their drink and kisses the bottom of their glass for good luck. The person then says another person’s name and the game continues on in this manner.
Toast: Egészségedre or Fenékig (pronounced egg-esh ay-ged-reh or fehn-eh-keg)
Meaning: To your health or until the bottom of the glass
Did You Know: The clinking of glasses was how the Hungarians paid tribute to the deaths of revolutionaries who were executed in the 1848 uprising against Austria… Because of this Hungarians do NOT clink their glasses of beer when they cheers, and when drinking with them neither should you!
Toast: Salute / Cin cin (pronounced saw-lutay / chin chin)
Meaning: Health/ cheers
Did You Know: Italians only ever drink water or wine with their meals – so that’s a no to other beverages like soda or beer while eating.
Japan – Japanese
Toast: 乾杯/ Kanpai (pronounced kan-pie)
Meaning: Cheers/ Empty the glass
Did You Know: It is impolite to pour your own drink in Japan. The best practice is to make sure your friend’s drink is always topped up so they do the same for you.
South Korea – Korean
Toast: 건배 (pronounced: gun bae)
Meaning: Cheers/ toast
Did You Know: Koreans have a saying for what they consider to be the right number of drinks “il bul, sam so, o ui, chil gwa“, which means “don’t stop with one glass; three glasses are not enough; five glasses is a proper amount and seven glasses is too much.”
Moldova – Moldovan
Toast: Noroc (pronounced no-rock)
Did You Know: Moldova is home to the world’s biggest wine cellar, Mileștii Mici. There are nearly two million bottles of wine stored there!
Poland – Polish
Toast: Na zdrowie (pronounced naz-droh-vee-ay)
Meaning: To your health
Did You Know: Vodka is a tradition in itself in Poland – It is only drunk straight (not with a mixer or in a cocktail), is served chilled (but not with ice) and is drunk in one gulp regardless of the amount.
Portugal – Portuguese
Toast: Saúde (pronounced saw-OO-de)
Did You Know: Binge drinking culture just isn’t the way in Portugal, they might start drinking early in the day but they pace themselves, making sure to eat and drink water all the while.
Toast: Живели (pronounced zhee-ve-lee)
Meaning: They lived!
Did You Know: In Serbia, if someone invites you out for a meal or a drink it is customary that that person pays the whole bill.
Toast: Salud (pronounced sah- lud)
Did You Know: In Spain, they believe toasting with a glass of water will give you 7 years of bad luck in the bedroom.
Thailand – Thai
Toast: โชคดี ((pronounced chok dee)
Meaning: good luck
Did you know: In 2016 the legal drinking age in Thailand was increased from 18 to 20.
Toast: Şerefe (pronounced sher-if-fay)
Did you know: Raki, a traditional Turkish drink, is often drunk when someone wants to talk about a serious issue, like death. It is normally mixed 1:1 with water and tastes like liquorice. When toasting with Raki the person with more authority, e.g a father or boss, should have their glass higher than the other person during the clink. The person to initiates the cheers should hold their drink at a normal height and the other person should lower their glass to show respect in the cheers.
Ukraine – Ukrainian
Toast: будьмо (pronounced bood’mo)
Did you know: There are some rules you should adhere to when toasting in Ukraine. Don’t toast in honour of the dead or on Easter and your glass should not touch the table once a toast begins until after you’ve had a drink.
Toast: Dô / Vô / Một hai ba, yo (pronounced jou / dzo/ moat hi bah, yo)
Meaning: One, two, three, yo!
Did you know: Vietnamese snake wine, or Ruou Ran, is believed to have many medicinal qualities and is used to disinfect cuts, as a supposed cure for farsightedness and even baldness. In case the name didn’t make it clear snake wine has a snake (or possibly several) in it.
Now it’s time to put your new knowledge to use and book a trip to one or all of these incredible countries!
How do you say cheers in your country? If I’ve missed it in the list please let me know in the comment section below. And Happy International Beer Day!