Christmas in Switzerland

Almost Twelfth Night – and we’re coming to the end of the Xmas entries. After yesterday’s visit to 18th Century Sweden, a more comfortable festive season in Switzerland  a few years later…

The Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion  by Madeleine King-Hall

published 1925

Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion Swiss Christmas 2

December 25th 1764 – Lausanne Switzerland

Though absent from Ireland and David A., today has been one of the most agreeable Christmases I have spent. The weather very fine and sunny and indeed they say that this is the mildest winter they have known for some years. The streets thronged with the bourgeoisie in their best clothes, all very merry and exchanging compliments of the season. Church, followed by a large dinner, which we gave here to our English acquaintances. Gifts were exchanged. Papa gave me “Excellent Discourses on Life and Death” by Dir Giles Witherspoon, and a pair of red shoes with gold buckles. Ned, a china confit box with apologies, for he is short of funds. Mr D presented me with a pretty pink embroidered neck-ribbon for dear Chloe. I gave Papa a Prayer-book elegantly bound, and a pair of fine lace ruffles to Ned. Many toasts were drunk, amongst others, The charming Miss Cleone – this to my vast embarrassment – and the Swiss Republic, in honour of our native guests.

Mlle. Pochon has had the goodness to give me a history of Venice which I shall study, doubtless with profit. I have offered a length of find Belfast lawn which most happily I had amongst my wardrobe, for I had not a sou left.

Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion Swiss Christmas 1

commentary: An entry on this book earlier in the year explains more about it: this fictional diary of Miss Cleone Knox was a big success in the 1920s, and some people thought it was a genuine diary. It is still a most entertaining read.

David A is Cleone’s great love – she is hankering after him still, while being toured round Europe with her father and brother. The family hopes she will forget him.

Miss Knox is young and rich and pretty, and faithfully records what happens to her in her diary, including all sort of interesting remarks:
Madame de B declares that a certain style of Ugliness in a wicked woman is pleasing to the opposite Sex, which seems a very wrong thing indeed.
Picture of an 18th Century Christmas.

Picture of a Family Party by Hogarth, from 30 years earlier, but giving an impression… from the Athenaeum website.


  1. I love that look at society that we get from that discussion of the gifts, Moira. It's really interesting to see how what gifts are chosen and how they're received. And I've always thought diaries can be effective ways to invite the reader to get 'into the heads' of the characters.

    1. I agree with you Margot - and love the idea of gifts as a key to character. What would you think of someone who liked to get crime novels for Christmas, hey? Ever heard of such a thing? ;)

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