Meet the people who have to work on Christmas Day

Meet the people who have to work on Christmas Day

To most people Christmas Day means a hearty meal, overdosing on chocolate and arguing with your relatives about what soap opera to watch on TV. For others, it’s just another day at work.

first direct are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and, yes, that even means Christmas Day. But they're not the only ones at work on December 25...


For parish priests Christmas is the busiest time of the year, as Reverend Sally Hitchiner explains. "Christmas Day starts at midnight mass on Christmas Eve. You don’t tend to finish until 1am or 2am, then you’ll get about six or seven hours’ sleep before having to be back and preaching a sermon."

Christmas is also the time when people drag their unwilling family members to church, and when revellers turn up to the midnight mass after the pub. But Rev Hitchiner says she would not change it for the world.

"It’s the busiest time of year but it’s also magical. I love it more now that I’ve become a priest. It’s the sense of sharing the different stages of the Christmas story with the wider community," she says. "We have the idealised view of the perfect family Christmas and priests never do that because they are stressed out of their minds. But the original Christmas family, Mary and Joseph, were far from stress free."


Zuzana Matyasova has been a zookeeper in London Zoo for 10 years and currently works at the penguin enclosure. This Christmas she will be at the zoo - and she wouldn't have it any other way. "For me it’s a nice present to spend time with a penguin on Christmas day," she says. "Who else has done that?"

Zookeepers tend to start earlier and finish earlier on Christmas Day, which allows those who wish to to spend quality time with the animals. "It’s a really lovely day," she says. "If I’m working I know I will spend it with my animal family."

The animals love it too. "The penguins get their whole feed in the mornings which they absolutely love," Zuzana says. "They get a huge amount all in one go, so they get a Christmas meal." Yum.


Soldiers at Trooping the colour. Image Credit: Jon/Creative Commons

Lance Corporal John Yates will be spending this Christmas at work as part of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. The 21-year-old has not spent a Christmas at home since he was 17. On Christmas morning he and the other "lads" at his barricades will wear fancy dress. But by the time they get to Horse Guards Parade it will be business as usual.

"It’s basically like any other day but a bit more fun, a bit more enjoyable, something different," he says. "I’ve worked every single Christmas I’ve been here. It is actually quite fun because it’s more relaxed. There’s not as much pressure as a usual day but you do miss home a bit. Sometimes I’d rather be at home, opening a bottle of champagne with the parents over a Christmas dinner."

Pub landlords

Landlady Georgia Watt has worked every Christmas Day in the 18 years she has been in the industry - apart from last year when her pub was flooded. She currently runs the Mill at Elstead, near Guildford, with her husband Jeff.

Despite that bad experience, Georgia still loves Christmas.

"It’s the ultimate day of the year," she says. "You always want everyone to have a nice time but you have to take it up a level. Nothing can go wrong. You have to really be on the ball but also be calm as well.

"We’re like swans: beautiful and composed on the outside but underneath we’re paddling and no one can see it."

While at home people are not always on their best behaviour after a few mulled wines, Watt says that in her pub "everyone’s merry but no one’s completely inebriated".

"It’s a very sociable atmosphere. People that have never met each other before end up talking and chatting and celebrating together."


Harvey* works as a Father Christmas impersonator for Hire Santa all year round, but is busiest in December. On a typical Christmas Day he gets up at 5am to visit terminally ill children at a hospital before going to a series of hotels. His day will normally finish at 10pm. Not that Harvey minds: he says he enjoys being Father Christmas and wouldn't have it any other way. "People are always over the moon to see me, it is a job that comes with a lot of responsibility but you have the power to make people very happy. I love working on Christmas Day."

"I spend all year round as Santa Claus," he says. "Although I’m only ever seen in December my first Christmas TV special was recorded in April."

*Our professional Santa did not want to give his real name

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