Do not fall asleep at the table in Switzerland A UK-Swiss cultural difference

Ben from the popular blog speaks of wine and notes an important cultural difference between Switzerland and the UK!

Originally posted on on 13 January 2015

The other day we had people over for dinner in Zurich. I'd been working too hard the last days, not had enough sleep the night before, been under a bit of stress, and perhaps drank a little more wine that night than was perhaps ideal. The combination of all of these factors led me to fall asleep at the table for a few seconds around 1am or so.

Now in Britain, if someone falls asleep at the table it causes a moment of amusement and then everyone continues their conversations and ignores the slumbering guest in the corner. But in Zurich…

Well, it caused mild pandemonium. Everyone immediately started getting up to leave. This woke me up rather instantly and I said ‘no, stay, don't leave on my account.' But within minutes they were all gone. I asked Sonja why.

"Because for us it is embarrassing," she said. "We think it is unfriendly of us that  we haven't realised this person was tired. We realise that it is time to go now."

I suspect that falling asleep at the table happens far more in the UK than it does in Switzerland, simply due to the amount of wine consumed at a typical dinner. In Switzerland so little wine is usually poured into the glass you almost need a microscope to assure you that some is there. Conversely, in Britain, a glass of wine very often means 250ml, a third of a bottle…

Author: londonzurichblog

Londonzurich is a website packed with travel tips, primarily about London and Zurich, but also many other places around the globe. It also highlights many of the culture clashes - often surprising, sometimes amusing - between the UK and Switzerland. Londonzurich is written by travel writers Ben and Sonja, a couple. Ben writes from London, and Sonja from Zurich.

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