Posted on January 24th, 2012
As you know, all Russian celebrations – Birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, christenings, promotions, you name it, are accompanied by alcohol. One of the most popular traditional alcoholic beverages in Russian culture is vodka. However, nowadays, you will be offered a wide range of other alcoholic drinks and cocktails at Russian parties.
Of course, a special occasion celebration calls for a good Tост [TOST] (toast).
Interestingly, word тост actually came into Russian from English, and it means the same thing – saluting a person or an occasion with a toast.
“На здоровье!” and “За здоровье!”
Do you know what “На здоровье!” means? If you think that “На здоровье!” is a Russian toast, you are incorrect. It’s not.
Many times I’ve heard from Russian language learners that “На здоровье!” is a Russian toast that means “To Health”. This is not correct.
Word “здоровье” means “health” and “на” is a preposition. In combination, “на” and “здоровье” is a reply to a “thank you”.
In other words, usually you would say “На здоровье!” [na zda-ROV’-ye] in reply to someone thanking you for something. For example, if someone is thanking you for a dinner:
– Спасибо за ужин!
You can reply:
– На здоровье!
However, if you are toasting to health, you can say “За здоровье!” [za zda-ROV’-ye] which means “to health”.
Please make sure not to mix these two phrases: “На здоровье!” and “За здоровье!” as they mean absolutely different things.
You can also impress your Russian friends by saying a longer version of “За здоровье!”:
Давайте выпьем за здоровье!
[da-VAI-tye VIP’-yem za zda-ROV’-ye]
Let’s drink to health!
More Russian Toasts
As you know, you can drink to different things. For example, you can combine Russian preposition “за” with the words below and say:
За любовь! [za lyo-BOF’] to love!
За удачу! [za oo-DA-choo] to luck!
За успех! [za oos-PYEH] to success!
За счастье! [za SHAST’-ye] to happiness!
За дружбу! [za DROOZH-boo] to friendship!
За наших мам! [za NA-sheeh MAM] to our Moms!
За новую работу! [za NO-voo-yoo ra-BO-too] to your new job!
You can also raise your glass to someone by saying their name:
За Сашу! [za SA-shoo] to Sasha!
За Машу! [za MA-shoo] to Masha!
Or you can also say:
За вас! [za VAS] to you!
За тебя, Оленька! [za tee-BYA O-leen’-ka] to you, Olenka!
Here are a few more toasts in Russian:
За наших милых дам! [za NA-sheeh MEE-lih DAM] to our lovely ladies!
За нашу слабую половину! [za NA-shoo SLA-boo-yoo pa-la-VEE-noo] to our weaker half!
За нашу сильную половину! [za NA-shoo SEEL’-noo-yoo pa-la-VEE-noo] to our stronger half!
Or you can also start your toast in a more creative way by saying:
Давайте поднимем бокалы… [da-VAY-tye pad-NEE-myem ba-KA-li] let’s raise our glasses…
Here are a few examples:
Давайте поднимем бокалы за наших милых дам!
Давайте поднимем бокалы за здоровье!
Or you can speak from your heart and say:
Я хочу поднять этот бокал … [ya ha-CHOO pad-NYAT’ E-tat ba-KAL] I want to raise this glass to..
Я хочу поднять свой бокал [ya ha-CHOO pad-NYAT’ SVOY ba-KAL] I want to raise my glass to..
Я хочу поднять этот бокал за дружбу!
Я хочу поднять свой бокал за наших мам!
A Couple of Creative Russian Toasts
If you really would like to impress your friends and family with your knowledge of Russian toasts, you can Google a few online using Russian keyword “Tост”. I’ve come across this wonderful website – Toptost.ru, where you can find more Russian toasts. I found the toasts on it very well written comparing to other sources, so I highly recommend it!
This site is also pretty good and offers a great choice of Russian toasts – Toast.ru as well as other interesting information about alcoholic beverages.
Here are a couple of interesting toasts for you:
General Toast (tongue-in-cheek):
Чтобы столы ломались от изобилия, а кровати – от любви!
Let the tables break from abundance, and beds break from love!
To Wives (tongue-in-cheek):
В народе говорят: “Если хочешь правильно поступить, посоветуйся с женой и сделай наоборот”.
Выпьем же за наших жен, которые помогают нам в сложных ситуациях принимать правильные решения!
People say: “If you would like to make the right decision, then ask your wife for an advise and do the opposite”.
Let’s drink to our wives, who help us make decisions in difficult situations!
To Health (funny):
Предлагаю выпить за здоровье тех, у кого оно еще осталось!
Let’s drink to the health of those who still have it!
The Last Toast by Anna Akhmatova
Anna Akhmatova is a wonderful Russian poet, and I am a big fun of her work.Since we are discussing Russian toasts, I would like to share this poem where the poet is offering her version of a Russian toast.
Я пью за разоренный дом,
За злую жизнь мою,
За одиночество вдвоем,
И за тебя я пью,—
За ложь меня предавших губ,
За мертвый холод глаз,
За то, что мир жесток и груб,
За то, что Бог не спас.
(27 июня 1934, Шереметьевский Дом)
The Last Toast (Translated by A. S. Kline)
I drink to our ruined house,
to all of life’s evils too,
to our mutual loneliness,
and I, I drink to you –
to eyes, dead and cold,
to lips, lying and treacherous,
to the age, coarse, and cruel,
to the fact no god has saved us.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Russian toasts. Do you have favourite Russian toasts? You can share your thoughts in comments below. I would love to hear from you!
Happy Russian learning!
- 10 DOs and DON’Ts in Russia
- 10 Romantic Phrases from the Romantic Russian Video Course
- Fruits and Berries in Russian
- Russian Video Lesson: How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Russian
- How to Pay a Compliment in Russian
Study with Maxim Achkasov
The courses of Russian as a foreign language with FunRussian take place online via Skype. The teacher works with adults individually since he is convinced that each person must receive maximum time for practice and professional attention while learning a foreign language.