Many countries or cultures have different ways of making a toast. Locals love to teach expatriates and foreigners the proper way to make a toast and they love to learn about yours as well! In this article we’ll tell you about the different customs we’ve stumbled upon when traveling, either for business or pleasure, through several of our 51 cities throughout Europe.
When you find yourself in Prague, the way to their hearts is by saying ‘Na Zdravi‘ (to your health) and lightly tap your glass against the other’s drink. Do not forget to make eye contact, it is very rude not to! In many countries the gist of saying ‘cheers’ is most always, to ensure good health for you and your drinking partners. It is the same in Budapest, where they say: “Egészségére” (tip-sounds similar to pronouncing ‘I guess she can drive’ with a thick Hungarian accent!). However, the technique is slightly different as there’s no clinking of glasses (especially not with beer!). First of all, make eye contact, raise your glass to eye level, say the cheers, take a drink (no gulping the whole thing down), make eye contact again and place the glass back on the table.
Now on to Warsaw where the gulping is allowed! Most drinks are served in small glasses to make said gulping easier. Another thing to remember is toasting is only done with hard liquor, obviously vodka. The cheers is ‘Na Zdrowia‘ and you should always maintain eye contact. In Slovakia (Bratislava), the situation isn’t much different – you should also toast with ‘Na zdravie!’. In Slovenia (Ljubljana), it’s pretty much the same: ‘Na zdravje!’, but the locals will probably give you more props for pronouncing ‘Živijo!’
In Vienna they’re aren’t too many rules to remember. Just be your charming self, raise your glass, make eye contact and say ‘Prost!’. You’re probably realizing now that eye contact is a must nearly everywhere! It just shows you’re interested in your companions instead of your smart-phone. This goes for any city we might not mention in this article.
In Belgium (Brussels) it’s polite to stand whilst having a toast with friends. The Flemish (Antwerp & Ghent) actually raise their glass twice, during the toast (say ‘Sante‘) and afterwards. Most common is toasting to the host or the friendly friend with a fat wallet who bought the drinks.
In Belgium’s neighboring country, the Netherlands (Amsterdam & Rotterdam) the cheers for a toast is ‘Proost‘. Most of the time this is accompanied by eye contact and the clinking of glasses, usually only with beer and soft drinks. When drinking wine, the Dutch tend to say ‘Santé‘ or nothing at all, because simply raising your glass to others in acknowledgement is more important.
Similar to the Netherlands, Germans (Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Cologne & Frankfurt) have a separate toast for beer, ‘Prost’ and for wine, ‘Zum Wohl’ which all mean “to your good health”. Remember to touch glasses with those you can reach around you, there’s no need for climbing over tables or others to get to someone’s glass. All throughout Germany it is also important to keep eye contact until you’ve placed your glass back down.
In Paris you can’t go wrong with ‘a votre santé‘ or just ‘Santé’ or ‘Tchin‘ and raising your glass, even clinking if you want! When you’re in the lovely Athens it’s ‘Stinygiasou‘ and ‘Ya mas‘, or ‘Salute’ when you’re in Italy (Milan & Rome). In Oslo the proper word is ‘Skol‘, which goes along with… you guessed it, eye contact! Oslo’s neighbours in Stockholm pronounce, and spell, it slightly different. It’s ‘skål‘ and is pronounced ‘skoal’.
In Helsinki, of course, even though the countries are neighboring, the languages are very different, so use ‘kippis‘ for a Finnish toast! Just south of Finland lies Estonia (Tallinn), with probably the dirtiest way of saying cheers: ‘Terviseks!‘. Use it with discretion. Go a little further down south to Latvia (Riga) and boast your knowledge of ‘Priekā!‘ as their way of toasting! Remember that it’s impolite to drink before saying cheers!
In Lisbon or Porto, if you want to ‘do like the locals do’, say ‘Saude’ or ‘Tchin Tchin’. Which is apparently derived from the sound of clinking glasses. The Portuguese word ‘saude’ is pronounced ‘sah-ood’ which sounds similar to the Spanish toast ‘Salud‘ (Madrid & Barcelona).
Now for the country of many languages, Switzerland (Zurich & Geneva). In the German speaking parts start your night off with ‘Prost‘, in the French parts it’s ‘Santé‘ and in the Italian part it is ‘Salute’. Remember your eye contact and clink glasses with everyone within reach. No surprises there right!
If you find yourself roaming the Slavic speaking countries of the Balkan peninsula (Belgrade, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Skopje), you can get by on ‘Živeli!‘ in any of these. The word exclaims hopes for a long life, and eye contact with every individual you clink your glass with is mandatory.