In a fantasy book called "Jack of Shadows" by Roger Zelazny I read this:

A disgraced member of a ruling party is being forced to ceremonially drink to the coronation of the new king, but instead defiantly lifts his cup, proclaims himself the new king, & drinks. Everyone else in the room pours their drink upon the floor.

Spilling wine on floors almost certainly wouldn't be acceptable in the present day, but the act makes me curious as to when it might have been commonplace & in what situations it might have been done. Disapproval of a wedding? A breakdown in negotiations between diplomats? A fight erupting amidst a dining hall?

  • I think to keep this from being too broad, you should remove the last sentence and limit this to the deliberate action of rejecting a toast.
    – Steve Bird
    Dec 6 '18 at 21:20
  • One of the reasons why it is extremely impolite nowadays are carpets and other floor coverings. Ever tried to get a wine stain out of a carpet? It's less difficult on a wooden or stone floor.
    – Jos
    Dec 7 '18 at 2:29
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    Lars, it was a fantasy book called "Jack of Shadows" by Zelazny. I was wondering if this detail had any historical truth to it. Jos, yes, I'm sure it would have been less taboo upon a stone floor, and yes, I've gotten wine out of carpets. Pour salt on it right away!
    – Jack
    Dec 7 '18 at 2:40
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    Pouring drink on the ground (rather than on floors), as a gesture to honor the dead (a way to share the drink with the dead), is present in many cultures and is to be related to the religious act of libation. I think it's probable that the "fantasy" event is just a fantasy.
    – user8690
    Dec 8 '18 at 14:42

I do not think that pouring drinks on the floor is rejecting a toast or ending civilities. I read in a article that: "pouring one out refers to “the act of pouring liquid (usually an alcoholic beverage) on the ground as a sign of reverence for friends or relatives that have passed away." So this would indicate the meaning behind pouring drinks on the floor.


  • I have of course heard of this custom as well, yet think you're probably right in that this particular scene is likely nothing more than Zelazny's story.
    – Jack
    Dec 10 '18 at 23:37

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