Why do we clink glasses when we toast?

Written by cameron delaney
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Why do we clink glasses when we toast?
(morguefile.com)

Clinking glasses at the conclusion of a toast is an honoured custom that demonstrates good will toward your drinking companions. There are some misconceptions, though, about how the practice started.

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Misconceptions

Legend says that one drinker would knock his glass against his companion's with enough force to slosh a little of his drink into his potential assailant's cup, as a way of thwarting any possible poisoning attempt. However, this is not true.

Theories/Speculation

Clinking glasses started in modern times after people stopped passing around a communal cup. To feel closer, drinkers started clinking their glasses, a symbolic way to show they were still drinking together.

Significance

People who clink glasses are demonstrating unity and good will. The pleasant sound of ringing crystal also punctuates the words of the toast.

Etiquette

Etiquette rules say that you don't have to touch glasses with everyone—just the people within easy clinking distance. Raise your glass and make eye contact with the rest of the group.

Warning

Don't bash your glass against another person's glass, especially if you are using delicate crystal. It's also considered rude to tap a knife or other utensil against your glass to get people's attention.

Considerations

Know the customs of the country you are clinking in. People in Ukraine, for instance, consider it uncouth to clink glasses if they are not drinking alcohol.

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