USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘toast’
Customs
Foodways
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Mother’s Witty Toast

The following is a recollection of a slightly drunken toast given by a friend’s mother. I had seen a video clipping of his mother giving the toast on the social media application Snapchat, although I could not understand what was being said (although it was quite clear from the many empty glasses of wine beside her what libations had led into the toast itself).

 

When I next saw my friend, I asked him out of curiosity what the specifics of the toast were. He indicated that it is a witty one his mother frequently gives at particular family outings when all six of his siblings are present at the table.

 

This particular toast was aimed at the eldest brother, who had just welcomed a newborn son (his first child) with his wife.

 

My friend’s imparting of his mother’s toast went as follows:

 

Here’s to you, as good as you are. Here’s to me, as bad as I am. And as bad as I am, you’re as good as you are. And as good as you are, I’m as bad as I am.

 

A common trait seen in toasts is a subtle mixture of humor and seriousness. Being a proclamation of goodwill towards the subject (or subjects), the overall message usually bears a heartfelt sentimentality meant to outweigh any teasing or foolery that precedes it.

 

What is distinct of this toast, in particular, is a cheeky admission regarding each side’s tendency towards good and bad, with an exclusive insistence of ‘good’ on the side of the subject and an exclusive insistence of ‘bad’ on the side of the presenter.

 

Despite the presenter painting themselves as bad, the repetition that makes up the bulk of the toast indicates this in a manner more celebratory than derogatory and only made possible/acceptable by the good of the subject balancing out the bad of the other.

 

In this, both sides of good and bad are made necessary by their pairing together.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Game
Humor

Friendships Toast

The following is a toast collected from a group of five friends who recite a pledge aimed at their longstanding mutual friendship. The pledge is performed during communal games involving alcohol, particularly ‘beer pong’ which is played between teams of two along the ends of a tall rectangular table.

 

The rules and practice of said game do not apply to the situation of the toast besides the table on which the game is played, which plays an integral and symbolic part to the performance of the toast. Therefore, the rules of the game will not be explained further outside of any direct relation to the proceedings of the toast.

 

The context of the situation proceeds as such:

The five friends gather around a handmade table constructed from available and basic wood materials. The table itself is kept at the host participant’s home, whose name has been excluded. While the participant is not the exclusive host to every party, each use of the table and recital of the toast is reserved to his home.

 

While there is no designated time during these parties for the toast to occur, it often falls after a few rounds of initial play of any alcohol-centered games, where everyone will have had at least one turn playing and thus have ingested sufficient amounts of alcohol to be slightly intoxicated at the very least.

 

At this point, each member of the group gathers around the table. The toast itself goes as follows:

 

(recited altogether)

“There are good ships, there are wood ships. There are ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships. So here’s to you and me!”

 

Each member of the group then simultaneously taps their beer can on the table and raises it up to drink. While raising their drinks, everyone together says (with less intensity)

 

“Down with Hitler.”

 

Each member then drinks until satisfied.

 

The pledge itself is a cheerful acknowledgment of the mutual bonds of friendship between each participant, and for the group as a whole. The concluding mention of “Down with Hitler” serves as a humorous reference to the host participant’s Jewish heritage, serving as a sarcastic assurance of false machismo that underlines the lightheartedness of the toast itself.

 

The table on which the toast is centered is constructed with dimensions of around 8 feet-by-2 feet and standing at waist height. Its top is painted with horizontal stripes of blue, green, yellow, and red, giving it a vibrant and outstanding place in the room.

 

Written in permanent marker across the top of the table are the words to the toast itself, along with various doodles such as star-bound rockets and bizarre imaginary creatures.

 

The names of each participant, accompanied by self-applied nicknames (often overly elaborate and nonsensical, otherwise only a vague relation to a defining characteristic of each person) meant to be referenced in an exclusively ironic manner.

 

These nicknames include:

 

Dr. Dreidel

A play on the stage name of popular rapper Dr. Dre and a reference to the participant’s Jewish faith.

 

Dookie Prada-G

The second part of the name a reference towards rappers’ tendencies to reference high-end clothing brands in their music in public image, itself a play on the word ‘prodigy’ despite Trevor’s complete lack of a musical background.

 

The other names of MC Betty, The Mist, and Boogiewitz 3000 are intentionally nonsensical, unrelated to the participant’s real names in any way. Thus, their humor is derived from this very nature of having no connection whatsoever to their makers.

 

 

 

 

 

Customs
Folk speech
Proverbs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Friendship Toast

When at a large group dinner with many friends all drinking and eating, Lizzie offers a toast:

“There’s good ships and wood ships and ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships so cheers to you and me”

After she gave the toast, I ask when she uses that particular toast:

“I use it every time I’m with good friends, old or new, to bring everyone together. Regardless of if everyone knows each other or not, it gives everyone a reason to laugh.”

 

 

Background: Lizzie is a recent graduate from USC originally from Riverside, CA and now living in Westwood, CA.

Context: Lizzie will offer this toast frequently when out drinking or eating with friends. I personally heard her say this once at a small party and another time at a birthday dinner. Originally, Lizzie heard it from another friend offering it as a toast when she was 17 years old living in Riverside. She then adopted it as her signature toast and her friends always expect it from her now.

Analysis: Proverbial sayings and in particular short toasts spread very easily since they are usually concise and catchy. In this circumstance, I found it interesting to consider a proverb or toast becoming a part of someone’s personal identity or image to other people like this has for Lizzie. Whenever Lizzie is at an intimate social event, her friends expect this toast from her. It made me consider any phrases or sayings that I frequently use in my daily vocabulary, and if there is a word-based habit that would remind my friends or family of me.

Customs
Foodways
Gestures
Kinesthetic

Eye Contact Following a Toast in Germany

The informant is a 51-year-old international businessman who has frequently traveled across Europe and Asia to meet with clients for the past 20 years.

Over a relaxed nine holes of golf, I asked the informant if there were any dining customs or etiquette that have stood out to him throughout his travels. He went into detail about proper German etiquette when enjoying a drink with friends, family, or business connections.

“It’s always a great time drinking in Germany, especially for a beer connoisseur like myself. Whenever I’m out to lunch or dinner for a business meeting, we always grab a beer and make a toast before drinking. Usually the toast is just to a successful partnership in the future, or to health and happiness. What you’d expect. One thing that’s really important following this toast is that you look whoever it is you’re drinking with in the eye when you ‘cheers.’ It is considered extremely rude not to. They joke that if you fail to look someone in the eye it means seven years of bad sex, but what it would really result in is whoever you’re with thinking that you’ve been dishonest or are hiding something from them.”

This German custom of looking someone in the eye reveals that in German custom, authenticity and personal connection are important. Toasts usually follow a celebration or accomplishment of some kind, and so eye contact can be seen as a way of solidifying whatever the toast was made to. If one man makes a toast to good health and the other fails to look him in the eye, then the ma who made that toast may begin to wonder whether the other is hoping for him to become ill. The superstition that failing to make eye contact will lead to seven years of bad sex is a playful way of reminding Germans of this custom, or of highlighting its importance to foreigners. I thought that this particular folkway made a lot of sense, given the intimate nature of a toast and taking into account the context in which the informant learned of it. Since the informant is often out to eat with business connections and is working to create a professional relationship, it is important that he look his German clients in the eye to let them know that he is understanding of their culture and that they can trust his word and that he will honor their negotiations.

Proverbs

To the Breezes (a toast)

Here’s to the breezes
That blows through the trees-es
That lifts their skirts above their knees-es…
That shows us the spot
That gets us hot
That teases, pleases and causes diseases…
Oh my god, what a snatch.
…down the motherfuckin’ hatch!

This is a toast my informant learned at the University of Evansville. It’s told among guys while drinking.

Proverbs

Toast for Honor

Here’s to Honor.
To getting Honor,
To staying Honor.
And if you can’t cum in her…cum Honor.

This is a favorite toast at the University of Evansville, where my informant attended. It’s a toast performed by guys, for other guys, when they’re drinking, and always gets a laugh.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Foodways
Proverbs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Italian Toast

“This wine is good and clear.
Good health to everyone.
Hope they bring to the cemetery the ones
who wanted to do away with it.”

This saying has been passed down through the paternal side of my family, who are all of Italian heritage.  My father’s grandparents were immigrants in the early twentieth century and were the last to speak Italian fluently in my father’s genealogy.  Some of my older relatives still remember this saying, however, and have said it on occasion though it is obsolete.  My father begins it when toasting to his family, but never gets past the first sentence.  As it involves Prohibition (1920-1933), its terminus post quem is 1920.  As recent immigrants, my great grandparents had left a country where good wine was plentiful and many people drank it daily, and were now faced with an across-the-board ban on every kind of alcoholic beverage.  According to my informant, the Italian men who immigrated near this time would continue to make wine that their families would drink, keeping it hidden in their cellars while brewing.  When the wine was finished and illegally drunk, a toast such as this would be offered.  This particular saying was either created or picked up by one of my father’s grandparents, and as my family has increasingly forgotten Italian (I know essentially none), the saying has remained, whether or not my relatives are aware that it is an anachronism.  Though it is obsolete, it reminds us of our common heritage and of my great-grandparents (now deceased) and their families.

Folk Beliefs
general

Folk Belief – American

It is bad luck for whomever you are making a toast if you drink from a cup containing water.

Barry explained to me that it is considered bad luck for someone if you raise your glass filled with water to make a toast on their behalf.  He said that, traditionally, toasts are made using some sort of alcoholic beverage, such as champagne, wine, or a mixed drink.  However, he said that it is perfectly fine for children or those opposed to alcohol to toast using some sort of a soft drink.  The one thing that is not considered good etiquette is to raise a glass filled with water, as many view it as bad luck that you are wishing upon the guest of honor.

Barry remembers learning this superstition from his grandfather at a wedding he attended for his cousin when he was approximately age twelve.  A toast was being made so Barry, being the minor that he was, raised his glass of water in honor of the guest.  His grandfather scolded him for the action as he said it was rude and improper to do such a thing.

Barry said he did not know where the reasoning comes from to support this superstition.  He continued to explain that this, like many superstitions, could have roots stemming back hundreds of years that help clarify the reason this superstition exists.

Doing some research after the interview, I discovered that this superstition comes from the United States of America’s Navy.  The reasoning they use to support this superstition is that toasting with a glass of water is essentially dooming the person to be honored to a watery grave.  Now after knowing this it is much more understandable.  People in the navy spend large amounts of time on the water, so it would be bad to toast with something that could end one of their lives at any moment.  I have not been able to ask Barry since the interview if his grandfather was in the Navy or not.

I found this superstition at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toast_%28honor%29#Beverage_choice

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