Working on Christmas Eve? Where will it end?

This used to be the only day us hacks could guarantee a quiet life. Thanks to a digital revolution we get to see how the front line public services have always had it

I’m not looking for any particular sympathy here, but I would, as I wish all of our readership a happy Christmas and extend our thanks for your support, like to reflect on one thing. And that is that this article is being written on Christmas Eve, a day that almost all print journalists used to be able to count on as the one day of the year when they’d not have to do any work (no laughing at the back please). Not Christmas Day, mark you, because there were always Boxing Day editions. But no one, it was assumed, wanted to read news on Christmas Day – better things to do and all that.

The digitalisation of the media has wrought many huge, epochal transformations in society, so Christmas Eve working has to be set in the right perspective. Still it is a small indicator of something more pervasive and significant that has crept up on many of us almost without us realising it – the blurring of lines between work and leisure.

Once, Sundays were truly special, when the Shops Act 1950 was in full force and there was little you could do on the Christian sabbath except go to church or maybe a museum – no recreational retail therapy and the pubs had even shorter opening times. I can recall an era when it was considered impolite to call colleagues at work between noon and 2pm. Before petrol stations turned into mini supermarkets there really was nowhere to get a pint of milk on Christmas Day.

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