It is normal to find a group of friends gathered at a bar, raising their glasses in the air and clinking them before drinking its contents.

The culture has become global that we sub-consciously don’t pay attention to it anymore, and you can agree that even when you say “cheers” while clinking glasses, your attention is nor precisely there.

Where did the culture of clinking glasses come from?

Here are 5 weird beliefs on how clinking of glasses came to be:

Get Away You Evil Spirit!

This is one of the oldest beliefs why glass clinking started. It is said that the early Europeans believed the sound that comes from clinking glasses chases away evil spirits. So it became a regular norm for people to clink their glasses together before celebrations to chase away any evil spirit that may be lurking. The belief is similar to the ancient tolling of church bells at weddings, and the loud shouts and noisemaking at the stroke of twelve on New Year’s Eve.

A Habit of Mistrust

Evil does not only come from evil spirits, the ancient wine drinkers also believed men were capable of evil. When drinking together, the clinking of glasses was meant to cause some of the drink from each cup to spill into the other, thus eliminating any suspicion that one was poisoned by your drinking partner.

Some people believed this was done in good faith. More like, “See! I did not poison the drink. And even if I did, I am drinking it as well.”

Complete Drinking Experience

It is commonly said that every wine made should fulfill all five senses—its colour, aroma, body, and taste. The clinking of glasses is believed to supply the fifth. This is said to give the complete wine experience. So apparently, people can taste alcohol with their tongue (taste), see alcohol with their eyes (colour), smell alcohol on their nose (aroma), feel alcohol when it enters the bloodstream (body). What is left is to hear the alcohol, which is why we clink glasses before drinking. This is said to give the complete drinking experience.

Communal Celebration

Most recently, the practice is believed to be one of a communal celebration of friends and/or family coming together to share a drink. Symbolically, it is believed as the wine glasses are brought together, so are the people holding them. The belief takes a deeper level, as some people believe that the liquor re-communes with itself on the clinking of glasses. In other words, that which had been one (when it had been in its own bottle) but was separated (when it was poured into a variety of glasses) is brought back into contact with the whole of itself, if only for a moment.

An Offer of Good Wishes

In modern culture, most people offer up good wishes during a toast or before drinking – another reason for clinking glasses. The tradition is believed to have originated with the Greek and Romans who raised glasses of wine to the air while offering sacrifices to the gods. The Brits say ‘cheers’ which Nigerians have adopted. Meanwhile, in South America, you hear ‘salud’.

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