I know of no countries that adhere more to the custom of toasting when drinking than those of Eastern Europe.
The image of a Russian cossack lifting his glass to a compatriot and shouting, "Na zdorovie!" has become a caricature that borders on buffoonery. But, it's really quite accurate.
When Eastern Europeans gather together, before the first sip of a round of drinks (and sometimes with every sip!), wishes for good health are expressed and not always with a clink of the glasses.
Make sure you know how to say "Cheers" or "To Your Health" in Eastern Europe. You'll use it a lot! While you're at it, here's how to say "bon appétit" in Eastern Europe.
How to Say "Cheers" in Eastern Europe
|(This List Is Not Comprehensive and Spellings May Vary)|
|Croatia||Živjeli! or Nazdravlj!|
|Czech Republic||Na zdravi!|
|Hungary||Egészségedre (to your health) or Fenékig! (until the bottom of the glass)|
|Romania||Noroc! or Sanatate!|
|Russia||Budem zdorovi! or Na zdorovie!|
|Slovak Republic||Na zdravie!|
|Ukraine||Na zdorov'ya! Budmo!|
What Eastern Europeans Like to Drink When Toasting
Far and away, vodka is the most popular toasting beverage among Poles, Russians, and Ukrainians. Bulgarians and Serbs love their rakija.
In Hungary and, more recently, in Bulgaria, and other grape-growing regions, wine is the beverage of choice.
Forewarned is forearmed. Whenever celebrations and drinking are involved, there's more than just a slight chance of over-imbibing and waking up with a monstrous hangover. Some people swear by a hair of the dog while others insist it's what you eat that will get you back to normal.
- Bulgarians claim tripe has magical restorative powers along with ayran (also known as airan), a sheep's milk drink similar to kefir.
- Croatians and Serbs say burek with a glass of kefir is the only way to go.
- For Czechs, Slovaks, and some Poles, garlic soup is de rigueur.
- Hungarians opt for fried bread known as lángos, generously rubbed with a cut clove of garlic, and night owl soup or korhelyleves made with sauerkraut and smoked meats.
- In Lithuania, sauerkraut soup known as raugintu kopustu sriuba eaten with a thick slice of Lithuanian rye bread is the miracle cure.
- Poles, like many of their compatriots, favor tripe soup, sauerkraut or soured milk (not buttermilk) and pickled herring to replenish their diminished salt levels.
- Russians, Romanians, and Ukrainians love their sour soups claiming they are the only way for your hair not to hurt anymore.
- Slovenes swear by chestnut soup.
Probably the best remedy is not to get a hangover in the first place. That means moderation in everything. But, sometimes, the best-laid plans of mice and men...