Learn the History of Giving Toasts and Raising a Glass

Drinking, toasting special guests, and raising a glass are long-held traditions through ancient civilizations to modern times. Take a quick look at how toasting changed from early drinking competitions to polite sips over the last few millennia.

Early Drinking Competitions

Many ancient gatherings—found in Egypt, Greece, South America, and China—were only considered successful when all guests had their fill of alcohol. The Greeks were well-known for having loud parties where large kraters of wine were served to everyone in attendance. These gatherings were used to judge how a person held his or her liquor. Guests would drink in honor of the gods, a leader, or a war hero, and it was expected that they drink a lot to honor that person.

Holiday Wassail Bowls

Wassail is a hot mulled cider typically served in a holiday wassail bowl. These bowls are similar to the modern punch bowl found at parties, but they are steeped in tradition. The Saxons would send around a large bowl of wassail for everyone at a party to drink. This type of drink-sharing tradition can be found in many cultures around the world.

Toast-Filled Drinks

The practice of giving a toast stems from an early tradition of dropping a literal piece of toast into a drink. This was meant to help the drink taste better or offer a tasty hors d’oeuvre to the drinker. This tradition eventually changed to the common acceptance of raising a glass to honor the health of a ruler or special guest.

Anti-Toast Movements

Due to the regular drunkenness and rowdy behavior that were brought on by toasts and drinking competitions, there were many groups and rulers who spoke out against toasting. From the 1500s until today, the toasting tradition eventually became accepted as a polite sip of any drink instead of drinking an entire glass of alcohol.


Professional Bartenders Unlimited can provide alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails for any event. We simply want our valued clients to have a great time celebrating. Please call us at (520) 721-1577 to learn more.