Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Cheers! Chin Chin! Prost!

Cheers! Chin Chin! Prost!
However you say it, the act of raising a glass, proposing a toast, and drinking to good health, is a tradition that dates back centuries. It’s mentioned in the Bible, in the poems of Homer, and even crops up in Greek mythology, when the Gods wish each other well. 
The Latin origins of the word ‘prost’, used by many to toast, is ‘prosit’, meaning ‘to mutual benefit’. In English, the word ‘cheers’ is used most commonly, interestingly in Italian too. It comes from an old Anglo-French word - ‘chere’, meaning the face. To have cheer, is to have a happy, positive expression, so cheers, is wishing happiness. 
Then there’s ‘chin chin’, another toasting phrase, which as you may have guessed, originates in China, where the Cantonese ‘ch’ing chi’ng’, meaning ‘please please’, was appropriated by sailors due to the delightful onomatopoeia of two glasses chiming together in a toast. 
Cheers, prost, santé, alla salute, whichever words you use, just be sure to toast with more than a glass of water, look others in the eye as you toast and always take a sip before returning your glass to the table.