You will notice that before taking a drink many Brits will clink their glass together and say ‘cheers’. This is a celebratory action though often it is not actually celebrating anything more than just being at the pub…
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 for breakfast but 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.
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 our drink to the gods.
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 clink their 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 glass it will then poison all of the drinks and the treacherous person will have to reveal themselves.