“My lords, ladies and gentleman, pray silence for…” if you’ve been to a nice dinner you may have had the pleasure of being regaled by an after dinner speaker. It is the customary thing to have a dignitary or person of some renown to be present to tell a witty tale or insightful state of the nation address, hopefully both to conclude the meal over coffee, tea or something stronger. One thing that you will be asked to do is make a general “toast”. This is usually to the Queen, wishing her a long life and reign whilst you at it, and to some other important person most probably the owner of the company that is sponsoring the event or whomsoever the dinner is for as an honour such as a wedding. If you need a speaker then why not try the Conference Speaker at https://www.adventureman.org/.
For the uninitiated do not expect to see a couple of slices of browned bread to be presented to you! The toast is celebrated with a drink, usually fizzy and alcoholic. However you might be wondering why we call it a toast if warm bread is not involved? This is because at one time it was the case and you have to go back some two thousand years to find out why.
The phrase to toast comes from the days of the Roman Empire. The Romans considered it the height of sophistication and good taste to celebrate a God, the current Emperor or a loved one with a “toast”. This was a simple drink of red wine but the difference was they added sweetened chucks of toasted bread to the wine as a way of celebration. Roman wine was a tad bitter and the honey toast cubes, or “panis tostus” in Latin, were added to it and used for a celebration, an offering to honour the Gods or to usher in the next phase of the year.
Before their equivalent of the after dinner entertainment could begin, namely acrobats, singers or a couple of Gladiators in a small scale bout to first blood (which rather puts David Gower’s memories of touring Australian into context) the toast would occur. Popular subjects were the following (there is also the phrase in Latin if you fancy giving it a go);
- Health living and longevity. “Bibe multis annis!” or Drink that you may live for many years! A drink to your health indeed.
- In support of a leader. “Augusto patri patriae, felicter!” or Hail the Augustus, father of the country!” You’d need to put Boriso in place of Augusto now of course.
- In praise of the Saints and or the Gods. Depending on what was the current vogue for belief at the time it was still ok to say a quick word to Zeus/Jupiter or God as long as you added “To Hygieia” (health) at the end.