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Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

rsl
paris
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Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Seeking inside info on etiquettes for an upcoming short stay in zurich.My knowledge of german is next to negligible without babelfish ( which incidentally gives funny translations sometimes).

How to say Thank you, Excuse me, Please, sorry, Good Morning and other things tht might please the german speaking hosts.

Wht are the do's & don'ts while shopping ?

Thanks for any info !

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Zurich
Zurich
Canton of Zurich, Switzerland
bern
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1. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Hello,

This is a complex topic. There is a book about it called 'beyond chocolate' which is very good. however, a few things to get you started.

When visiting somebody it is customary to bring a small gift. if you are eating with them, a bottle of wine is good, otherwise flowers, toys for the kids, something from home, just a token.

It is normal to take your shoes off before going into someone's house. They will usually provide slippers in a range of sizes called 'house shoes' so you don't need to bring your own. If you have holes in your favourite socks though, you might want to leave them at home.

Also you should shake hands both when meeting someone and when leaving. You should shake hands, (one by one and taking your time) with everybody (including children) whose company you are joining or leaving and say their name if you know it. If they are close friends, three 'air kisses' near the cheek is appropriate. Follow their lead, if their hand goes to your shoulder and they lean forward, kissing is the go. first to your left (their right cheek), then right, then left again. Again say their name.

When you are poured a glass of wine, always wait until you have touched glasses and said 'prost' 'cheers' 'sante' or whatever with everybody before you start drinking it. As you do it, eye contact is important and again, say their name. Also, one at a time. If 2 other people are touching glasses, wait until they have finished. Try not to miss anybody.

After you have eaten at a Swiss host's house, it is customary to help clean up.

While shopping, in a small store, say a collective hello to everybody present when you enter, and a collective goodbye when you leave. Also greet new customers when they arrive. In a larger store or supermarkets, this doesn't apply, just in the little village stores. A guide is that if there are not more than 3 or 4 people in the store, you should say hello.

I should add that Swiss are very forgiving to those who don't follow etiquette. It is not expected from visitors. It is however appreciated that you are making an effort. So good on you for asking.

cheers and have a good time

Robert

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Swiss Holiday Park
Swiss Holiday Park
327 Reviews
Morschach, Switzerland
rsl
paris
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2. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Robert, thank you so much for these tips !

Its to their credit that the Swiss are generous in forgiving the visitors for not observing their code of conduct.But i like it when trying to follow these lil mannerisms brings smiles from locals and breaks the barriers.

While saying 'prost', if there are 5 persons at the table, if i understand it correctly, one has to address everyone by name while making eye contact and raising the glass, right ?!

How to say ' the food was excellent'' we liked it very much' in german ?

Is public display of affection acceptable ?

And apart from army knife, watches, chocolates and cow-bell, is there any other typical swiss souvenir, not to be missed for carrying back home ?

bern
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3. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Hello,

With the 'prost', that's it exactly, except that you touch glasses rather than just raising them. Normally you hold the glass by the stem so that it makes a sharp ting rather than a dull thunk. then, with eye contact, you say, for example, 'prost robert' and after going around the whole table, you can drink.

To express that something (food, wine) tastes good, we normally comment after the first mouthful, something like

'mmmh, sehr fein' pronounced 'fine'. Swiss tend to understate compliments so German words like 'ausgezeichnet', meaning excellent, which work in Germany, will seem a little exaggerated here.

Public displays of affection? What is acceptable here is similar to elsewhere in the western world (I think). I mean it's ok as long as nobody gets carried away.

As for souvenirs, I can't think of any more suggestions. It's a horses for courses kind of thing.

cheers

Robert

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Germany
Germany
Europe
rsl
paris
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4. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

We never stop learning.I dont want to be paranoid about how to carry myself but at the same time cultural faux pas are a 'no no'.I have heard so much and learnt from people like you who take the rouble to explain tht i wonder if i havent already been to the Swiss ! :) Cant wait though for this small first trip.

Danke wieder!

bern
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5. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

isch gern gse, ('you're welcome' in Bern dialect)

viel spass, (have fun)

robert

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Bern
Bern
Bern Mittelland District, Switzerland
Switzerland
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6. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Roberthome did an incredible job explaining some cultural differences. I might use his text for my next English class.

One more custom: there used to be an unspoken rule that Swiss, when walking past each other on a hike, would greet each other by saying: Gruezi (pronounced: Grezi). Some (many in fact) still do.

So if someones says Gruezi to you, say it back. Then you can keep walking.

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Swiss Holiday Park
Swiss Holiday Park
327 Reviews
Morschach, Switzerland
rsl
paris
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7. Re: Cultural do's & don'ts in Switzerland

Thanks to you too Olygirl !

With my preparation for this trip, interaction on swiss forums and email exchange with tourism authorities, i am really impressed with the touristic culture and promptness of response of Swiss people.This is amazing !