“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit. Der Gemütlichkeit. Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit”
If you just read that phrase, and rather than actually reading it, you were singing along in your head imagining yourself holding up a large beverage in your hand (it better be a large MASS of bier), then you, my friend, are in a good position. If you can sing that song with pride and with affirmation, you have learned the inner-workings of the German culture; the joy, fun, and pure happiness of the culture. You see, when you sing that song, the traditional German drinking song, you instantly become friends with your neighbor. You clink and clank your glasses, you swing and sway your beer, and whether you know the words or not (or if you do, in fact, know the words but have indulged in too much German liquidy goodness that you cannot seem to pronounce the words correctly), you feel like you have instantly become best friends with everyone in the room. And most likely, after a few rounds of singing and cheers-ing, you actually WILL become best friends with everyone in the room.
Ok, ok so I am a little bit biased when it comes to this song. What else do you expect from a girl who is 100% German, after all? Not to mention, my dad is actually in a German Polka band (lederhosen and all), and I was practically forced to learn this song in between learning Christmas carols and church hymns. In fact, my first three words were: Mom, dad, and PROST; this song is just THAT important. Of course, it’s common knowledge that people do have the impression that Germans like to drink, and while I am not here to argue against that (because we all know there is NO arguing that), it’s beyond the beer and the singing. Above all, Germans LOVE spending time with their friends and family, and good drinks are the excuse to always get together. Or wait, maybe it’s the other way around….
In Germany, they have something called “Stammtisch” at local bars and beer halls, where people gather every week on the same day and at the same time, and they are there for no other reason than to spend time with their friends while drinking their favorite beverages. In the Hofbrauhaus, Germany’s most beloved and famous beer hall, there are roughly 15-20 different Stammtisches that meet there every week, and have been doing so for the past three decades. Their pictures hang on the walls, and they even have personal “lockers” where they store their mugs and beer steins for safe keeping. But of course, who DOESN’T have a special locker where they securely lock up their drinking devices in this day and age? In the words of ELF, those folks at the Stammtisch know that “The best way to spread GERMAN cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!”
I absolutely love sharing this tradition with my friends, neighbors, coworkers, and occasionally random people I meet in day-to-day life. But what I love even more than this is learning about other culture’s traditions. We all know that nothing really beats the German drinking song OR German beer (I’m overdosed on Deutsche Pride), but there are so many cultures that have traditions like this one. The Italians need to cheer with their wine, the Hispanics need to sing to their tequila, the Russians their vodka, and the Americans…well, they just cheers to everything. My friend from Israel did teach me that instead of saying “cheers”, they say “La Heim”, which means, “TO LIFE.” In Spanish, they say “SALUD” (which is spelled WAY too closely like “salad”, in my opinion). In Turkish, it’s “Serefe”, and in Japan, they say “Kanpai,” meaning: Dry the glass. 100 dollars go to the first person who can pronounce “Egészségedre” correctly, which means “to your health” in Hungarian.
No matter how you say it, no matter what language you are saying it in, and no matter where you are in the world, the meaning is all the same; to cheers to a LIFE that is worth living.
So raise your glass high, look at the person next to you, and PROST to the road ahead!