How To “Cheers” Properly on New Year’s Eve

In the informant’s family, it’s unacceptable to clink glasses at a New Year’s Eve celebration without making direct eye contact with the other person for the duration of the toast. She says the tradition – and the superstition behind it – come from her mother.

“My mom always used to remind me to look people in the eyes when we raised our glasses in a toast,” she says. “She believed that avoiding eye contact would not only prevent good luck, but would actively invite bad luck upon the topic of cheers.” So if, for instance, someone made a toast to good health, her mother feared that avoiding eye contact during the toast would most certainly result in the death or illness of someone at the gathering.

The informant says her mother got the belief from someone she met in college. That person’s belief stemmed from a personal belief that looking into one another’s eyes connects people, and that it is this connectedness and positivity during a toast or a wish that determines that toast’s or wish’s success.