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The Russian drinking toasts

a group of people sitting at a table

Today we will talk about Russian drinking toasts that usually people say during the parties and festive home dinners. If you were invited to a Russian party and you don’t know how to make a good toast, then this article is for you!

The history of the toast.

In Russia, the word “toast” came from Britain. It literally means “roasted piece of bread.” There was such a tradition in Britain that before drinking alcohol you should dip a piece of bread roasted on fire in a glass of wine. Then this tradition was replaced by toasts in the form of a short speech-story dedicated to a specific event.

a man standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera

What do we usually say during the parties?

The most popular Russian drinking toast is about health! “To your health!” [Za zdarovie].
Sometimes Russians say just Your health! – [vashe zdarovie] This toast is said if you have a person who is older than you, or to a group of people.
Sometimes we say [budim zdarovi], which can be translated into English as“ To our health! ”.
If you’re going to the birthday party it will be very welcomed be to say a longer toast for and about the birthday person with kind wishes.
But frankly speaking you can drink for anything.
[za vstrechu] To our meeting!
[za nashu druzhbu] To our friendship!
[za hazyaiku doma] To the hostess!
[za lyubof’] To love!
For the parents! [za raditelei] To our parents!

a group of people sitting at a table

10 last shots 

One more rather interesting tradition that is not popular nowadays in such a scale as it used to be before is the tradition of last shots. 
This tradition takes place from the time of Ivan the Terrible, XVI century. Since Russians are famous for being welcome and hospitable they are sorry to see their guests to leave. In order to make them stay a little longer the host proposes ten last shots.
These are:

  1. Zastolnaya (at the table)- as a sign of respect for those who stay at the feast;
  2. Podyemnaya (lifting) – when leaving the table;
  3. Na hod nogy (on the course of the leg) – on moving away from the table;
  4. Zaporozhnaya (at the threshold)- when overcoming the threshold of the room where the feast takes place;
  5. Pridvornaya (at the yard) – at the exit to the yard;
  6. Na pososhok (on the hock) – the host gives  guest a hock (« posoh » in Russian is a large stick used as support during a long walk) and put a shot on it. If the guest spilled the wine, dropped the glass, did not manage  to bring it to the mouth, then the guest is supposed to stay over.
  7. Stremenaya (stirrup) – before he put his foot in the stirrup;
  8. Sedelnaya (saddle) – for the fact that he ascended the saddle;
  9. Privorotnaya (at the gate) – before leaving the gate;
  10. Zavorotnaya (after the gate)- for the fact that he managed to leave.

a group of people sitting at a table

As the concept of stirrup and saddle remains in XVI century and cars are more popular means of transportation nowadays please mind that in Russia it is absolutely prohibited to drive after drinking, even soft one like beer. 

We wish you good parties, now you can just send the invitation into Zoom or Skype and try the toasts with your Russian friend!

When all that coronavirus thing is over we invite you to our vodka tour in Moscow where our local guide tells you many more interesting facts about the drinking culture in Russia!