Are you planning a vacation in Switzerland? Or have you just moved here recently? Then you will be interested in these tips on Swiss customs. Like every country, Switzerland has its own peculiarities, certain manners and rules which the Swiss attach particular importance to. This little etiquette will help you to avoid unpleasant situations.
Always notify your visit in advance
Are you just in the area where one of your friends lives and decide to drop by spontaneously? Then you should definitely call and ask if a spontaneous visit is convenient. Standing outside the door unannounced is never well received by Swiss people. The Swiss plan everything in advance, so it’s best to avoid surprise visits altogether. Depending on the person, a meeting should be suggested or announced at least two days in advance. Very few Swiss people are spontaneous!
Extensive greeting rituals
It is not easy to greet correctly in Switzerland. In any case, it takes a certain amount of time, because it can become a longer procedure. A handshake is customary for greetings in a business environment or between people meeting for the first time. Accompanied by a “Grüezi Mr. / Mrs. so-and-so. Freut mi”.
Friends greet each other more warmly. Women exchange three kisses on the cheeks, and men and women also perform this ritual. Men tap each other on the shoulder or shake hands. Instead of three kisses, certain friends also hug each other, depending on the person.
Your joys have invited you to barbecue, but require you to bring your own meat? This is by no means meant to be rude, but is common practice in Switzerland. Even with “normal” dinner invitations, depending on the host, he or she may ask you to contribute something to the evening and bring along wine or dessert. This often happens, especially among close friends. If it is a more formal invitation, it is a good idea to bring a small gift for the host.
Say thank you the day after and return the invitation
For every invitation, whether for brunch, dinner or the housewarming party, you will be thanked afterwards. Either on the same day or at the latest the next morning. In the past, you had to make a short call, but today you can send a WhatsApp and say thank you for a great time. Very important: within a reasonable amount of time you have to return the invitation. If you have been invited to dinner by your boss, you are expected to do the same for a few weeks. If your child has been invited to a classmate’s birthday party, you must invite them to your party.
Whether it is a business meeting, a cinema appointment or an invitation to a children’s birthday party, be on time in any case. Nothing displeases the Swiss more than having to arrive late or wait. If you organize a dinner at your home and invite people at 7 pm, your doorbell will ring 7 pm sharp. The only exception are parties where the Swiss also arrive up to half an hour later. Showing up later is considered rude.
Always cheers with everyone
The Swiss loves to go “for an apero”. Which means meeting for a drink before dinner. Once everyone has received the drinks they ordered, a toast is served. And with each and every one. And very important: you look each and every one of them straight in the eye. Just holding the glass and looking in a different direction is considered extremely rude. The Swiss also say that pushing without direct eye contact results in seven years of bad sex.
Tip only if everything was great
Unlike in countries such as the USA, where waiters live from tips, in Switzerland it is up to the individual to decide whether and how much one wants to tip. As a rule, amounts are rounded up, if the coffee costs 4.70, you give 5 francs. But that is not a must. In a restaurant, the tip is a little higher, but more than 10% in the rarest cases. If neither food nor service convinced you, it is also ok not to tip at all.
Speaking Swiss German, the best way to fully integrate
In order to integrate fully in Switzerland, one thing above all helps: learning Swiss German. In this way, a Swiss will forgive you any misfortune, however great. So sign up for our online course today.