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toast to new years

The History Behind Why We Toast to the New Year

We all have been clinking our glasses together for our New Year’s Eve toast for as long as we can remember. But have you ever wondered where this tradition came from and why Champagne is the drink of choice to say good-bye to the current year and ring in the next?


When It Began

Surprisingly, you have to go back 1,500 years to find the first time alcohol was recorded as being used to toast the New Year. The custom of toasting was a religious event and began as a church ceremony for the elite and wealthy to celebrate a new year’s start. The drink used at that time was described as having a similar taste to that of our present-day Champagne.


The Term Toast

It wasn’t until the late 17th century that the word toast came about. The word evolved from the custom of plopping a piece of toast or crouton in a drink, similar to the way people toss a lime into tequila or some lemon into tea. Most likely, this practice was done to add flavor to the beverage. It was very common, and virtually anything found floating in a drink was referred to as “toast.”


Clinking of the Glasses

There are several theories as to where the tradition of clinking glasses came from. In the early days of Christianity, many believed the bell-like noise of glasses clinking would keep the devil away. Others speculate that by adding the clink, drinkers could get the absolute best experience from their drink. Without the clink, it was believed that the toasts only satisfied four of the five senses. Although research cannot confirm or deny this one, a third theory is that it was believed that clinking glasses would prevent nobles from getting poisoned. A story is told that the clank would splash liquid from one glass to another, reassuring the guest that their drink was safe to drink and had not been tampered with.


The American Toast

Americans caught onto the tradition of toasting rather willingly. For them, the ritual was largely for patriotic purposes. Toasts were commonly directed toward the new republic and the experiment of democracy. For many years after the Revolutionary War, 13 toasts were obligatory. They toasted once for each state, and no dinner or celebration was considered complete without all 13 tributes.


Toasting Today

The ritual of toasting is more popular today than ever, especially when welcoming the New Year. The act of clinking glasses to 2021 is no longer simply a religious event or a patriotic affair, but rather a nod to honoring a person or concept, such as good health, and to the hopeful idea that we shall start anew.


Choose your favorite beverage and raise your glass this New Year’s Eve. Payless Liquors has a huge selection of wine, beer, and liquor for all your New Year’s holiday needs. Check out our website and use our 5-star rating guide to help you make your next selection. Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year!