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The term “toast” – as in drinking to someone’s health – comes from a literal piece of spiced of charred toast routinely dropped in cup or bowl of wine, either as a form of h’or d’oeuvre or to make the wine taste better.

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The term “toast” – as in drinking to someone’s health – comes from a literal piece of spiced of charred toast routinely dropped in cup or bowl of wine, either as a form of h’or d’oeuvre or to make the wine taste better.

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  1. [https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/drinking-alcohol-culture](https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/drinking-alcohol-culture)

    Excerpt:

    A Toast to Toasting
    Sometimes toasting was a duty—in the first century BCE, the Roman Senate decreed that the health of the Emperor Augustus be drunk at every meal—though more often it smacked of a drinking game. The poet Martial, who wrote snarky verses in the first century CE, described a Roman party practice in which each guest was compelled to drink as many glasses of wine as there were letters in his mistress’s name-a major challenge for those involved with a Proserpina or Messalina.

    According to Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th-century History of the Kings of Britain, the first recorded toast in England took place in 450 CE, at a feast given in honor of British King Vortigern by Hengist, leader of his Saxon allies. Hengist’s daughter Renwein (Rowena) offered a goblet of wine to the king, saying “Louerd King, waes hael!”—“Good health!”—after which both drank. (Vortigern, swept off his feet, promptly proposed marriage.)

    The holiday wassail bowl takes its name from the Saxon waes hael toast; traditionally this was a large single bowl from which everyone shared a drink. Related is the tradition of the loving cup, in which a large two-handled cup is passed from diner to diner, with each in turn taking a drink. Traditionally guests stand up three at a time as their turn arrives: one person to pass the cup, one to drink, and one to defend the temporarily defenseless drinker. The story goes that this tradition arose in the 10th century, when King Edward II (“the Martyr”) was stabbed to death by his stepmother while drinking a cup of mead.

    The term “toast”—as in drinking to someone’s health—comes from a literal piece of spiced or charred toast, a tidbit once routinely dropped in a cup or bowl of wine, either as form of h’or d’oeuvre or to make the wine taste better. Shakespeare mentions this in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Falstaff calls for a quart of spiced wine, then adds “Put a toast in it.” By the 18th century, the term “toast” had been transferred from the floating bread to the person honored by the toast-hence the particularly popular could become the “toast of the town.”

    Toasting in previous centuries, though governed by a complex hierarchical etiquette of who could toast whom and when, was largely an excuse for excessive drinking. At get-togethers, bumpers—bulging full glasses—of wine were raised to the king, to each and every guest, and to lists of absent friends. The British navy had a roster of toasts to be drunk daily, in order: the first was always to the king, variously followed by “our ships at sea,” “our men,” “a willing foe and sea room,” and “sweethearts and wives.” The irrepressible Prince Regent—he of the snapped-off wine-glass stems—favored competitive toasting in which gentlemen, in pairs, drank bumpers to admired ladies until one or the other of the drinkers collapsed senseless to the floor.