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Why do Brits cheers before drinking and what does cheers mean?


YOU will notice that before taking a drink at a pub or restaurant many Brits will clink their cups together and yell ‘Cheers’. This is a celebratory action though often it is not actually celebrating anything more than just being at the pub…so we can understand why it may be a bit confusing.

You only have to look at some of the alternative sayings to find out what ‘Cheers’ means. The most common substitutes are ‘to good health’, ‘all the best’ and ‘Slainte’ which is Gaelic for ‘cheers to your health’. Have you figured it out yet? Cheers is simply a way to celebrate good health and wish further good health and happiness on your companions.

A cheers was traditionally done at the end of a toast- no we are not talking about the piece of bread you have at breakfast, we are talking about the speech made at events such as weddings and birthdays. While the term ‘Cheers’ is not solely British it is a widespread custom in pubs and restaurants across the UK.

But where did it all start? We have the Greeks and Romans to thank for the now rife use of cheers. It was both a Greek and Roman tradition to leave an offering to the gods, including alcoholic beverages, when they had big banquets. This was most commonly done when there was a feast following the death of a person.

It is believed this custom evolved into a toast to the health of the living. And to this day we still raise our glasses to the ‘heavens’ as if offering up to the gods…just like the Greeks and Romans.

Of course like any history there are a multitude of myths and tales that go with it. Our favourite is that the real reason people hit there glasses together before drinking is to ensure the drink is safe, because the liquid will slosh over the side of the cup mixing all of the drinks. If someone has chosen to put poison in the cup it will then poison all of the drinks and the treacherous person will have to reveal themselves. How true this is we don’t know…but we will let you make your own mind up about that one.

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