Toasting is a huge thing in Russia. Has been for ages. A full glass must be drunk to the bottom after every toast, because “a toast without wine is like a wedding without a bride!” A traditional Russian drinking party usually includes a sequence of several standard toasts.
You can refresh them by watching my Most Common Russian Drinking Toasts/Phrases video.
The most common first toast is...
To our meeting!
[za FSTRYE-tchoo] … sort of an ice-breaker toast:)
Another good opener toast is…
To our health!
The toasts that follow largely depend on the occasion that brought the people together. At a birthday party, the first toast (with wishes of health, success and a long life) is usually to the birthday guy or lady. The second toast is to their parents as a sign of honor.
At a wedding, the first toast is “To the health of the newlyweds.” After that, the guests shout "Горько!"(Gorko!) often and loudly, all through the banquet. “Gorko” literally means "bitter” in Russian, implying the bitterness the wine being drunk. By yelling that the wine is bitter, the guests are inviting the newlyweds to make it sweeter by giving each other a sweet long kiss. As the bride and groom kiss, the guests count the seconds: “Один! Два! Три! Четыре! Пять! ... One, two, three, four, five..." until the kiss is over, whereupon they raise their glasses in a toast.
At a funeral banquet, the first part of the toast is usually an uplifting or touching story about the dearly departed; it is concluded with the words Пусть земля ему/ей будет пухом! Вечная память! (Let the ground in which he/she rests be like goose down. Eternal memory to (him/her). When people in Russia drink to the dead it is customary not to clink glasses.
Without a doubt towards the middle of the party someone usually proposes a toast “За женщин”! “To beautiful ladies!” or “To the ladies present here!" At this point someone else usually says that real men stand up when they drink a toast to beautiful ladies, and they drink to the bottom. All the gentlemen present promptly comply.
The last toast, “На посошок!” / “Na pososhok", is usually pronounced when the guests are about to leave. In olden days, travelers used a walking stick, called posokh or, diminutively, pososhok in Russian, during long journeys. A toast to the walking stick, therefore, is meant to make sure that the return journey is safe.
Learn some Russian today!