The best toasts bring tears and laughter at once. Not only do you revel in the senses as glasses clink, but you also leave with a sweet memory.
Throughout history, whenever wine flowed, words were sure to follow. Though Ulysses drank to Achilles in Homer's Odyssey nearly 3,000 years ago, the first known toast in English was recorded in 450 A.D. Said the beautiful Rowena of the Saxons to Vortigern of the Britons: "Louerd King, Waes Hael!" (Lord King, be of good health!).
The term "toast" itself comes from the 17th-century custom of placing a crouton in the drinking vessel to absorb impurities.
Thankfully, some traditions are extinct, such as Scandinavians drinking from the skulls of their fallen enemies -- thus the toast "Skoal!" Also quaint today is "Here's mud in your eye," which originally expressed the wish that farmers would find soft earth easily turned by a plow.
But some toasts never lose their flavor, such as Humphrey Bogart's to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca: "Here's looking at you, kid."
Brief, heartfelt, and to the point, Colonel Sherman Potter of M*A*S*H made a toast that was everything a toast should be: "To long lives and short wars!" And who could forget Tiny Tim's magnanimous toast in Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol: "God bless us everyone!"