Swiss habits For Members

Pröschtli! 5 things to know about proposing a toast in Switzerland

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Pröschtli! 5 things to know about proposing a toast in Switzerland
People toast glasses of a wine (Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP)

Getting ready to head to a beer garden or wine bar with your Swiss friends or co-workers? Make sure to familiarise yourself with the culture of toasting and the language to use.


Toasting is popular in Switzerland

Most countries across the world have a culture of proposing toasts. But whereas in Anglo countries a toast is usually reserved for formal occasions, it can happen more frequently in Switzerland. 

For instance, when you head out for drinks with friends or colleagues, it's the norm to have pause, look at each other closely (more on that below) and toast to health before sipping your drink. 

It's a ritual that people in Switzerland enjoy and it strengthens bonds with those you're sharing drinks with.

... but it's brief

Don't expect a long speech before drinking - in Switzerland a toast is simply clinking your glasses and wishing everyone good health. It depends on the group of friends, but often people will toast before every drink of the night (or at least look for someone to clink glasses with before they sip from their fresh drink).

An important thing to note is that before your first drink together, you should wait until everyone has been served and the toast is completed before taking a sip from your glass. 

Know the lingo 

Switzerland is a land of four official languages (and many other languages are spoken) so keep in mind that you'll hear a few different versions of cheers! 

You'll often hear Prost (Cheers in German) in the German-speaking regions, but it can also be the Swiss-German Proscht or Pröschtli or Zum Wohl (to health) or Gesundheit (health).

READ ALSO: How to drink wine like the Swiss

In other parts of Switzerland you may also hear Prost, but it can vary. For instance, in French-speaking areas, you could hear santé (or the more formal or plural à votre santé depending on the situation) or tchin-tchin. You can also toast to something specific - Trinquons à notre réussite (here's to our success) or the more general à la votre (here's to you) or à la notre (here's to us).

Aperol Spritz

Photo by Suissgirl on Pixabay

In Italian-speaking regions you might hear cin cin or alla nostra (a short way of saying alla nostra salute or "to our good health").


Eye contact is everything

Like many other European countries, Switzerland takes the tradition of maintaining eye contact when clinking glasses very seriously. 

Ideally, you should clink glasses and hold eye contact for a moment with all members of the group (or at least those within reach) and say "Prost" (or whatever the greeting being used by your Swiss group) before taking a sip of your drink and placing the glass back on the table. 

It's considered impolite to not look your fellow drinking mates in the eye - and many believe it brings bad luck, with some saying it brings seven years of bad sex. 

READ ALSO:  The dos and don't of Swiss social etiquette

Where does this weird superstition come from? No-one really knows. 

There are, however, a number of theories, most of which relate to medieval times. 

One explanation is that clinking glasses is an insurance policy against being poisoned. If the person you are drinking with had poisoned your drinks, bumping your glasses together, particularly if done with some force, would mean that the drinks would splash into one another, and your potential murderer would risk killing themselves along with you. 


And why the eye contact? The only way to be sure that the poison had not spilled into his or her glass would be to watch the glasses as they hit each other. By making eye contact at that moment, the two drinkers assert to one another that there is no reason to look at the glasses, establishing a mutual trust that neither drink is poisoned. 

You usually buy your own drinks

In the UK it's common to take turns and buy rounds for your fellow buddies, or even put money into a "kitty" (fund) that you can use to buy rounds of drinks with. 

In Switzerland, that's not really the done thing. You'll usually pay for your own drinks - either when you order or at the end of the night from the tab, where you can tell the server which drinks you had and pay up.

Of course, if it's a smaller group of close friends you may choose to buy each other drinks.

Whatever your group decides, remember to make sure your share is paid for at the end of the night! 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also