Here's to the Three Birds: An Irish American Holiday Toast

"Here's to the three birds! May you always have a bird on the table, a bird in your glass and an eagle in your pocket."

I first heard that toast when I was very young from an elderly neighbor. It was a toast from her childhood in the early 1920s. The toast her mother and uncles always used. Already something of an antique in Jazz Age America. The bird in the glass -- Wild Turkey a.k.a. whisky -- in those days of Prohibition was frankly illegal. The bird in the pocket -- the beautiful $20 American Eagle gold piece --was fast receding into memory -- and what it meant to be an Irish / Scottish / Catholic / Canadian / American come south to work the railroads in the timber camps of the Pacific Northwest was also fast receding into memory. 

Nevertheless, the toast spoke to a universal desire: companionship, good food, a break from the daily grind, money in your pocket. And so today I wish you all the three birds. May you always have a bird on the table, a bird in your glass and an eagle in your pocket.

Very best wishes for the holiday and the New Year.

Sarah Nagle

Views: 790

Tags: Christmas, Toasts, Traditions, United States, Whiskey

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on December 24, 2014 at 10:52am

Thanks for this, Sarah.  Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a superb beginning to 2015!

Comment by Gerry Regan on December 27, 2014 at 11:04am

Fascinating and poignant piece of Americana, Sarah. Thanks for sharing this. 

Here's a toast from an Irishman I just found via a Google search, one which really speaks to me:

“May you live all of the days of your life.” - Jonathan Swift


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Comment by That's Just How It Was on January 4, 2016 at 8:41am

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush ;;;; a long time adage of my grandmothers .. meaning , promised money or a drink, is not with having until it is in your hand !


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