Toasting is a form of ceremonial blessing performed in European and American countries. Toasts are performed in celebration of important events, such as a wedding, the founding of an organization, the cementing of a business relationship, a birth, a death, or an expedition into previously unexplored territory. By tradition, newly-built ships are also toasted when they are first launched.

Toasting is intended to bring luck and good fortune to the person or venture being toasted. It serves to remind participants of the significance that the person or event being toasted, and it might be considered a very casual magical ritual as well.

Procedurally, toasting can be as simple or as demanding as the participants want it to be. Certain elements are ubiquitous, however. Toasts are frequently done at formal meals or during other ceremonies. One person decides or is selected to make the toast, and attracts the attention of the others present, usually by tapping a spoon against the side of a glass. The toaster then raises his or her glass and makes a short speech in praise of the person, event or thing that is his subject. This speech can be very formal and serious, but speakers often try to lighten the mood a little, especially at joyous occasions such as weddings or baby showers. The toaster will then invite the others to drink from their glasses (champagne is traditional, though other beverages are frequently used, especially in the case of children or those with religious prohibitions against alcohol). Once the participants finish drinking, they applaud the person who gave the toast, and go back to whatever they were doing.

At especially formal occasions, some choose to hire a toastmaster, a person who specializes in formulating particularly elaborate toasts. This is common at bar mitzvahs, but is by no means confined solely to such ceremonies.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it is quite common for drunk people to randomly make toasts at parties. These are usually addressed to the party at large. A very short toast which is a particular favorite of mine, and which I have used to good effect at Freak Manor parties, is attributed to Lord Byron:

"Infidels, subversives, seducers, wantons all -- what lively company!"