drinking cheers mot hai ba in Vietnamese

“Cheers!” in Vietnamese

Photo credit: DungH2O Nguyen

When Vietnamese men are drinking, their version of “Cheers!” is:

  • Một, hai, ba, dô!

… where the is pronounced like zoe in Northern Vietnam, and yo in Southern Vietnam (learn more about the wacky Vietnamese consonants here).

The expression has the same meaning as “one, two, three, go!” or “let’s all drink together!” Thereafter, everyone tips their glasses and slams back the drinks.

When someone initiates the cheers, everyone should drink, and it is considered disrespectful not to drink at the same time, or, to delay drinking, or do it unenthusiastically.

In other words, if you hope to make friends in Vietnam and are invited to a drinking session, be prepared to drink in tandem with other people — otherwise you will be ostracized.

Often, before the cheers, there is a quick agreement on the amount to consume. Typically someone will say:

  • bottom-ups
  • 50/50
  • two-sips

Both men and women engage in the same behaviour, and are expected to drink simultaneously, but there is less pressure on the women to drink as heartily, whereas there is a strong social pressure on men.

men drinking in vietnam, cheers!
Cheers! in a rural village Vietnam – Photo credit: Lynn @ VietnamDaily.ca

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