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Switzerland explained For Members

'Better late than never': 12 things you will never hear the Swiss say

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
'Better late than never': 12 things you will never hear the Swiss say
Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Swiss aren't known for being overly talkative until you get to know them. But there are some things you will never hear Swiss people say out loud.

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“Swiss chocolate is so overrated”

If you happen to be a secret Belgian chocolate lover, you will sadly have to keep your eating habits on the down-low when in Switzerland.

Swiss chocolate is a source of pride for the Swiss and dates back to 1819 when François-Louis Cailler set up a chocolate factory creating the first modern chocolate brand – the oldest still in existence – in Corsier-sur-Vevey above Lake Geneva.

Many chocolatiers followed suit and centuries later, the average Swiss citizen eats 11kg of chocolate per year, according to 2022 figures. 

“Just drop by my house anytime!”

If there is one thing that the Swiss are not by nature, it is spontaneous. They are very much a nation of planners and take their engagements very seriously, which are usually arranged well in advance – even if it’s a simple hangout among friends.

But if you still insist on dropping by unannounced, be my guest (or not).

“Better late than never!”

Speaking of meeting up, you can spend decades living in Switzerland and never see a single Swiss person embrace tardiness.

If you agree to meet your friend at 8pm sharp, know that there is a 5-minute grace period for being late. While the average Swiss would prefer you chose being early over being late, arriving on the dot will ensure you leave a lasting impression.

Lindt chocolate

You won't hear the Swiss say Swiss chocolate is overrated. Photo by Yves Scheuber on Unsplash

“Let’s talk about money”

Once you’ve stepped inside a Swiss home you will want to make for interesting conversation, but before you know it, you could be on your way to committing your first crime against Swiss etiquette.

That’s right, the Swiss are notoriously private people which means discussions around divisive topics, such as finances, politics, and religion, are best avoided.

“I love expanding my friend circle!”

While the Swiss are usually welcoming of other cultures and meeting new people, forming new (close) friendships is seldom their cup of tea.

With Switzerland being a rather small country, many Swiss form their core friends at school and further education making it trickier to befriend them once adulthood hits.

But don't lose hope - it is possible! And once you're friends with a Swiss person, you're friends for life. 

READ MORE: 'Five years to make friends': The ups and downs of life in a Swiss village

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“Out with the old, in with the new”

Many Swiss, especially the older generations, are not fond of changes. They like things just the way they are — or at least the way they used to be — and will resist any effort to amend or modify the status quo.

Luckily for those people, some things in Switzerland change at a snail’s pace and you can read about them here.

"I believe everyone should switch to paying by card”

While in some ways people in Switzerland are financially progressive — for instance, in terms of cryptocurrency — in others, they still prefer the traditional payment method: cash (and hopefully lots of it).

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So, while you’re welcome to pay by card in Switzerland (as most people do), just don’t expect the Swiss to trade paper for plastic.

READ MORE: ‘Cash is freedom:’ Why do the Swiss love coins and banknotes so much?

Swiss francs.

Swiss francs. Switzerland enjoys cash payments. Photo: Pixbabay

“Roger Federer is a sound player, but Novak Djokovic is the GOAT

If you’ve been keeping up with tennis lately, you may be tempted to agree with this statement.

Still, remember that the Swiss will – stats aside - stay forever loyal to the legend that is Switzerland-born Roger Federer, so discussing his inferiority will not make you befriend the Swiss any quicker – and we’ve learned how difficult that is already.

“Who would bring Aromat on vacation?!”

The answer is: the Swiss.

The Swiss love their Aromat seasoning so much that there’s hardly a household that doesn’t keep it on their spice rack and some people even carry it with them when they eat out at restaurants or travel abroad.

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"Don't worry about recycling"

Though this may seem trivial to some people, for the Swiss garbage disposal is a serious matter and you will hardly find a Swiss citizen willing to throw recyclable goods in with their regular trash. Not only would this be breaking the law - and that is certainly not a Swiss trait - but you would also contribute to pollution.

"I don't like Swiss cheese"

if you're looking to upset a Swiss, then this sentence should do the job. For the Swiss, their national cheese is not merely a food item, but it has a deeper meaning as well: it symbolises their ancestral heritage and national identity.

"Just take a quick look, it doesn't have to be perfect."

Except, yes it does.

Quality products such as Swiss watches and measuring devices have a long tradition in Switzerland and they would not have the reputation they do on a global level if precision wasn't very valued in the Swiss workplace.

READ MORE: When is something from Switzerland officially considered Swiss?

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