Gestures and Expressions in Switzerland
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Always shake hands when being introduced to a Swiss, and when leaving. This is standard behavior, even with young and casual people. It is also customary to greet the proprietor upon entering a shop, bar or café, and to say good-bye when leaving.

Public displays of affection are fine, but are more common in French-speaking Switzerland than in the slightly more formal German-speaking parts. Exchanging kisses (three times, alternating cheeks) upon meeting is a common ritual in French-speaking Switzerland.

At the dinner table, everybody waits for the host to make a toast prior to drinking, and before your impatient lips stretch for that soothing libation you must clink glasses with everyone present while looking into their eyes. Before tucking into the food, the cry of en Guete or Bon Appétit is heard.

Most Swiss go to bed early, so don’t overstay your welcome if you are invited to somebody’s home and don’t telephone anyone after about 9 P.M.

Don’t flaunt your wealth and don’t talk about salaries. What a person makes is nobody’s business. Even amongst friends it is rarely discussed. Switzerland is a wealthy country and the majority of the population lives comfortably, but some are richer than others. They are no less modest, however, and they do not put their riches on display.

Fritz Zorn, the writer from the Goldenküste (the posh Zurich lake shore neighborhood) explains: “In my home, the way we minimized anything that had to do with money was typically Swiss. We had possessions, but we didn’t show it. Nothing was flashy or showy; solidity was what mattered. Quite often things that didn’t look like much had cost a fortune. We didn’t serve caviar on gold plates. Rather, we ate soup in bowls that one would think came from ABM [Swiss department store], but actually cost us a thousand francs a piece.” (Fritz Zorn, Mars)

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