If you raise a glass of water during a toast you will die by drowning, according to one particularly moribund tradition from our friends at the U.S. Navy. According to the Navy’s “Mess Night Manuel,” water toasts are bad luck.
“In the military, toasts are never drunk with liqueurs, soft drinks, or water,” the “Mess Night Manuel” reads. “Tradition is that the object of a toast with water will die by drowning.”
If that doesn’t shiver your timbers, consider this curiously related superstition from Greek mythology: Ancient Greeks toasted their dearly departed with glasses of water. It was an homage to the River Lethe, upon which the deceased sailed to the Underworld.
Toasting someone with water was considered akin to wishing them (and maybe yourself) death by drowning. Ancient Greek gods might also see a raised glass of water and consider that an invitation to shower you in misfortune.
Mary M. Mitchell, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette,” issues a counterargument. “Raise your glass even if you are not drinking alcohol,” Mitchell writes in an article titled “Modern Etiquette: Guidelines for Giving Toasts.”
“Anything will do — even water,” she writes. “It’s the thought that counts.”
She makes a valid point, but we’re not taking any chances.