Yesterday in church we had communion.


Taking communion is one of the most beautiful ceremonies I experience in my faith. It is a time of reflection, of sober realization, and quiet, inexplicable joy.


This time it got a little awkward.


I was sitting next to my dad. He’s doing slightly better, but still struggles with getting his words out and sometimes he’s not entirely clicked in with what’s happening around him.


I’m pretty sure he still thinks it’s 2003. For real.


Anyway, there we were, passing the communion bread, reflecting, then came the holy grape juice we use instead of the more Biblical wine.


He took his tiny cup, passed the communion tray to me, I took my cup, passed the tray, and looked back at him.


He extended his thimble-full of  communion juice toward me in the internationally accepted signal for “Cheers!”


I don’t think God is narrow-minded but I also am not sure how I feel about clinking glasses and yelling, “Salut!” during communion.


I didn’t clink communion glasses with my dad, as he kind of shook himself, pulled his glass away and turned to quiet contemplation before I could truly respond, but the whole exchange made me wonder why we clink glasses and do “cheers” at all.


On the off chance you don’t already know, here’s what I found out:


1. Poison. If you clink your glasses together with enough force the liquids will slosh over one another and if poison exists in a drink it gets shared with the others.


I have to question why you’re drinking in the company of anyone who might give you poison, but that’s probably because I’m a fuddy-duddy. It’s true. I don’t like fun. Just random facts.


2. Tinkle. Back in the day there was a closely-held belief the sound of bells frightened the demons away. We all know demons like to hang out around parties, so this was a very important ritual. If you clinked your glass you were spiritually sanitizing your home.


Beats Lysol.


3. Fun. At this point the clinking of glasses is reserved for weddings, brokering deals, and late night games of Sink the Bizmark at Nicks near Indiana University. Regardless of the history, it’s fun, it’s social, and it can be done where ever you find yourself.


Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a list of ways to say “Cheers!” in different cultures:

  • Chinese – Gan Bei
  • Japanese – Kanpai
  • Thai – Che Loong
  • Armenian – Ge Natz
  • Serbian – Ji Ve Li
  • Spanish – Salud
  • German – Prost


Glad you joined me to learn about the awkward moment when your dad tries to do cheers with his communion glass. Sigh. I hope you have an excellent day and many opportunities to share enjoyable beverages with those closest to you!

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3 thoughts on “Prost!

  • November 7, 2011 at 9:25 am

    In our family, we say “cathaoireacha!” (cah-hair-i-cah!) which is “chairs!” in Irish Gaelic. (The Irish people have a great sense of humor and frequently use sayings that rhyme with or sound like the real phrase.)

  • November 9, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I believe glasses clink because it is the only sense left out of the equation: one smells the wine, tastes the wine, feels the wine, sees the wine, but without the clinking of the glasses, the fifth sense is left out…

    • November 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Good thinking… I like that theory!


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