Slainte: Celebrating Toasts and Things Irish

“I have known many and liked not a few,
But loved only one, and this toast is to you.” Irish Toast

I have planned a series of Friday blog posts here in the month of March celebrating toasts, having been inspired by a couple of previous meanderings that have ended in toasting to (among other things) dangerous beauty, courage, and friends.

So, what is a toast, exactly? This from http://www.etymonline.com — “a call to drink to someone’s health,” 1700 (but said by Steele, 1709, to date to the reign of Charles II), originally referring to the beautiful or popular woman whose health is proposed and drunk, from the use of spiced toast to flavor drink, the lady regarded as figuratively adding piquancy to the wine in which her health was drunk. The verb meaning “to propose or drink a toast” also is first recorded 1700.

The tradition of toasting goes back a bit further to the Greeks and Romans, who lifted their glasses to show the wine was not poisoned and hid the taste of vinegary wine with burnt bread.

But it is commonly held that it was the Irish who lifted toasting to a clever art. Which makes sense as the Irish have, in general, priviledged the storyteller’s art. And what is a toast but a mini story.

And what better (and more Irish) drink to have in your glass than Guinness. Guinness for strength. Guinness for life. To your health. Slainte.

Do you have any favorite toasts? Are you Irish? Ever been to Ireland? What is your favorite St. Patrick’s Day (celebrated on 17 March) ritual (drinking or otherwise)?