Swiss German Proverbs – You Cannot Have your Cake and Eat It Too

Swiss German Proverbs - Foifer und Weggli

In English speaking countries, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. In others like France, you cannot have butter and the money for butter at the same time. Or in Italy (and this is no joke), you cannot have a barrel full of wine and a drunk wife!

But in Switzerland, every child knows that you cannot have “the five cent coin and the bun”! This proverb stems back to the beginning of the 20th century when a roll of bread (“Weggli”) presumably cost 5 cents (“Foifer”).

Germans would most likely keep dancing at two weddings simultaneously before understanding what their Swiss neighbors are talking about. “Weggli” is very much a Helvetic expression, and a so-called “Foifer-und-Weggli-Lösung” an attempt to integrate all positive aspects into one solution.

How very Swiss!

The point is all the same: You cannot have two good things at once when they are in direct correlation to each other.

So, do you know how other countries manage to describe the “Foifer und Weggli” paradox?

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Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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5 replies
  1. Elisa
    Elisa says:

    I’m afraid I don’t, but I do know that you cannot have your chocolate AND a small-ish ass, and that is VERY much related to Switzerland. Surely they’d welcome a new expression coined by an expat?

    Reply
  2. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    Germans dancing at two weddings? I always thought that was a Yiddish saying: “With one tuchus, you can’t dance at two weddings.”

    Reply
  3. Twan Laan
    Twan Laan says:

    In Dutch one could say:
    “je kunt niet van twee walletjes eten” – you cannot eat from two sides (of a river bank). The proverb goes back to the situation of a cow, standing in a ditch (with no water in it), eating grass from both sides.

    Reply

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