Toasting Practices in Ukraine

Video Transcript

Toasting's really kind of...I wouldn't say it's important, but it is a big part of any Ukrainian formal event, and when they're doing toasting, it's more of an expression of how you feel, so it's not usually a one-word toast or 'to us' or 'to this.' It's normally at least three or four sentences of your feelings towards that, and the way the normal toasting works at most events is the host will toast first and he will express some gratitude for the visit, and then it's kind of expected the senior party, or the senior person of the visiting party, would give the second toast, and usually that happens fairly quickly. There's an old saying—I believe it is a Russian saying—that says 'between the first and second toast a bullet shouldn't fly.' So what they're saying is the second toast should come fairly quickly, so if you're the head of a delegation you've got to kind of keep that in mind because there's an awkward period if you wait too long. Then the third toast will be more...usually if there are females present, they usually toast the third toast to the females who are present. If there are no females present, the third toast would be to fallen soldiers. And it is expected...if you are drinking, it's pretty much expected that that third toast you will toast and finish your drink. It's not expected in any of the other toasts, but any toast to women or to fallen soldiers it is expected's a little more formal. You may stand up—you'll probably stand up—and you will make your toast and down your drink.

A retired military service member discusses toasting practices in Ukraine.