Russians are well known for their drinking (especially vodka). However, you may not know that they take a lot of pride in it and have different toasts and ways of saying cheers depending on the situation. Here we will break down several of the meanings and when it is appropriate to use that cheers.
Cheers in Russian
1. За здоровье – Za Zdarovje (Nah zda-rovh-yeh) – This is the most common cheers used when toasting before a drink. It’s meaning is simply “to health” or “bless you”. Travelers often use this term when toasting and local Russian will smile and know what you mean. However, don’t feel like you need to use this one every time as there are better cheers you can say. To Russians this is more of a foreigner saying as it is often used out of context.
2. За встречу – Za Vstrechu – Once you have cheered by saying Za Zdarovje, the next logical toast is Za Vstrechu. The meaning behind this term is “to our meeting” and means it’s lucky that you have met the person. This saying is often used when meeting new people and will continue the drinking from there.
3. За нашу дружбу – Za nashu druzjbu – OK. Now you are getting ready for your third drink and you need a new cheers to say. Next up is Za nashu druzjbu and means “to our friendship”. This is often used around the 3rd or 4th drink as by then you should have become friends with the person you have been talking to. If not keep drinking and soon enough you will be.
4. За любовь – Za Lyubov – Another popular cheers is Za Lyubov and the meaning is “to love”. You will often hear Russians using this toast as they are a romantic people and it’s easy to always want to wish for love.
5. За родителей – Za raditeley – Russians do also have great respect for elders and parents. Za raditeley means “to our parents” and can be used at small get togethers like family dinners or ceremonies.
6. За наших милых дам – Za nashikh milikh dam – If you are at a bar where there are both men and women you may hear the cheers Za nashikh milikh meaning “to our ladies”. This is a term of endearment and respectful to any women present.
7. Давайте выпьем за то, чтобы мы испытали столько горя, сколько капель водка останется в наших бокалах – Davajte vupjem za to, chtobu mu isputali stolko gorya; skolko kapel vodka ostanetsya v nashikh bokalakh – This may take some studying to remember all the words, but the Russian are like poets when it comes to drinking and nothing says it better like “let’s drink to the fact we have the same sorrow as drops of vodka that are left in our glasses”. May countries have similar sayings, but this is a popular Russian cheers as the night goes on.
8. 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 – V narode govoryat: “Yesli khochesh pravilno postupit, posovetuysya s zhenoy i sdelay naoborot. Vypyem zhe za nashikh zhen, kotoryye pomogayut nam v slozhnykh situatsiyakh prinimat pravilnyye resheniya – As you end your drinking night, you may find that the women are ready to leave and have been bugging you to stop drinking. When this occurs it’s time to say ” If you want to make the right decision, ask your wife and do the opposite.” Let’s drink to our wives, who help us make the right decisions in difficult situations.” This is very popular by Russian husbands as they cap off the night.
There are over 40 sayings when it comes to toasting and below we will list them all out for you. However before we do here is a little etiquette to follow.
Toasting and Drinking Etiquette in Russia
1. It’s always good to have something to snack on when drinking. In Russia the two most popular side dishes are salads or pickles. Before you hit the night running, order a few snacks for people to nibble on.
2. Vodka is always the drinking choice in Russia. If you aren’t a hard alcohol drinker, but want to fit in, know that it isn’t proper to mix vodka with anything. You may get away with that in your home country, but be prepared for just a shot glass and bottle.
3. Russians typically only drink and cheers when there is some form of occasion to celebrate. The good news is there is always an occasion, even if it’s just meeting new people. As you start to mingle and dive into their culture, you will see just how important it is to the locals to toast and celebrate before each drink. Very rarely will you ever see someone start drinking without a toast or a few words prior.
Other Cheers Sayings in Russian
Before we list all the ways to toast friends and family, it’s important to note that almost all of them start with Za meaning “To”. When you are about to speak start with Za as you typically want to cheers to the group and not yourself.
Also if you are at a more formal occasion you may see people giving longer speeches while still keeping it around why it’s time to start drinking and celebrating.
Popular Russian Cheers and Meanings
To you! За тебя / За вас! [za tee-byá]
To your health! За твоё здоровье! [za tva-jó zda-ró-vye]
To our meeting! За встречу! [za fstryé-tchoo]
To our friendship! За нашу дружбу! [za ná-shoo dróo-zhboo]
To the hostess! За хозяйку этого дома! [za ha-syáj-koo é-ta-wa dó-ma]
To women! За женщин! [za zhén-shsheen]
To love! За любовь! [za lyoo-bóf]
To our parents! За родителей! [za ra-dée-tye-ley]
Let’s get started! Поехали! [pa-yé-kha-lee]
One for the road! На посошок![na pa-sa-shók]
Let us drink to the success of our project / business! Давайте выпьем за успех нашего дела!
May we always have a reason for a party! Выпьем за то, чтобы у нас всегда был повод для праздника!
Let us always enjoy life the way we enjoy this glass of wine. Давайте всегда наслаждаться жизнью, как этим бокалом вина!
To our get-together! May we meet up more often! Выпьем за то, что мы здесь собрались, и чтобы чаще собирались!
Birthday Cheers in Russian
Happy Birthday. днем рождения!
May you never have bitter moments, hear salty jokes or see sours smiles. Let’s drink to the sweet sides of life! Пусть в твоей жизни не будет горьких минут, солёных шуток и кислых улыбок. Выпьем за сладкие стороны жизни!
I wish you piles of money, a sea of love and lots of time to enjoy it! Happy Birthday! Я желаю тебе кучу денег, море любви и уйму времени, чтобы насладиться этим! Поздравляю с днем рождения!
May your dreams come true not only on your birthday! Выпьем за то, чтобы мечты исполнялись не только в день рожденья!
Gorka! Горько! [gór-ka]
To the newly-weds! За новобрачных! – [za na-va-brá-tchnyh]
To the bride and groom! За жениха и невесту! –[za zhe-nee-há ee nee-vyé-stoo]
To the beautiful bride! За красавицу невесту! –[za kra-sá-vee-tsoo nee-vyé-stoo]
Let’s drink to love! Gorka! Выпьем за любовь! Горько! – [vý-pyim za lyoo-bóf. Gór-ka]