Home Living in Switzerland Cultural Integration Swiss table manners matter
Last update on June 15, 2020

You may have discovered WHAT you like eating here, but do you know HOW to eat in Switzerland?

The Swiss are very manners conscious. Even in schools, children must greet their teachers with a handshake and eye contact. When my children’s friends come over, I am always pleasantly surprised by their good table manners and their use of please (bitte) and thank you (danke). Shortly before leaving, a Swiss child will come over to me, stick out a hand and thank me for the visit.

Here are some Swiss table manners:

  1. Be on time.
  2. Don’t eat your food until everybody has food on their own plate.
  3. Start the meal with the words “bon appetit” or “guten Appetit.”
  4. If there is wine, wait until the host begins the toast.
  5. When toasting, chink your glass with everybody at the table and look each person in the eyes before drinking.
  6. Keep your wrists on the table, but never your elbows. Do not place your hands in your lap.
  7. Remember to always say please and thank you.
  8. Tear French bread; don’t cut it with a knife.
  9. Lift your forearm from the table while moving the fork to your mouth.
  10. Use your left hand for the fork and the right for your knife and gently push food on your fork.
  11. If there is a cheese wheel, cut it from the center into slices.
  12. When finished, put your knife and fork parallel to one another on your place as if they were hands on a clock indicating 5:25. If you don’t do this, your host will serve you more food.
  13. Finish everything you take on your plate. The Swiss do not appreciate waste.

These manners apply to children as young as two.

Additional children rules: make sure children wash their hands before meals. Children generally must wait to leave the table until everyone is finished.