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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

London photo: Odeon Christmas


This is the Odeon Leicester Square — one of the premiere cinemas in the U.K., and in Europe — on December 23rd, announcing that it would be open on Christmas Day.

This is not a thing in the U.K. Cinemas are not open on Christmas Day. All the big Christmas movies open on Boxing Day, December 26th. Christmas is a day for everyone to spend with their families, not going to the movies. Not selling tickets and popcorn.

As an American, I apologize. The U.K. continues to take all the wrong cues from the U.S.

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  • Dr. Rocketscience

    What if you have no one you care to spend any day with, let alone Christmas? Are such people to sit at home, in the dark, and think about what they’ve done?

    Or what if you’re, say, Jewish? I came from a mixed marriage, and though we never did the Chinese food for dinner thing, I did spend one or tow Christmases at a movie with my grandparents.

    I appreciate the “having to work on Christmas” thing. But I betcha a cookie if you’ve got 5 people working a Christmas shift, one doesn’t celebrate Christmas, one is glad for the excuse to get away from “loved ones”, and one just needs the money.

  • Bluejay

    But some families like going out to do something special together on Christmas Day. Some might even want to see a movie together.

  • RogerBW

    It has been quite usual for families to invite neighbours who live alone into their homes for Christmas.

    People who want to watch films have televisions, which these days will probably give a bigger angular picture and better sound than going to a cinema. Not to mention having a much wider selection of films available.

    The big supermarket chains claim that their customers are incapable of going an entire day without buying food. This doesn’t in practice seem to be true..

  • Because this cinema — and the few others that are now open on Christmas Day — are in central London, I assume this is to get in tourists who didn’t realize that almost literally everywhere would be closed on Christmas Day.

  • All of that has always been true. So what has suddenly changed in the UK?

    And we’ve certainly heard enough stories out of the US about people having no choice about being given a holiday shift to know that it certainly isn’t only people who really want to work on a big holiday who are doing so.

    Here’s something to consider re someone who needs the money: there is no public transit in London on Christmas Day. None. Most people in London don’t own cars (because you don’t need a car). So anyone who really needs the money that much will end up paying more for a taxi — which is the only way to get to work and back home that day — than they’d earn.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So, then what do British Jews (and Muslims, and Hindis, etc., etc.) do on Christmas? The “Chinese food and a movie” thing is a bit of a cliche (and certainly tinged with a little racism of its own), but it’s also born of a sense of resentment, that this pluralistic culture still expects everyone to celebrate Christmas “in your own way”.

  • RogerBW

    Whatever they feel like that doesn’t involve requiring other people to work, same as everyone else.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Because the people at Odeon* finally clued in that, even in the UK, not everyone stays home with family for Christmas?

    Yeah, the other 2 (of my original 5) are probably thinking, in the most appropriate use of the phrase, “Jesus Christ this sucks.” I figured that would go as read.

    I’m sure that’s true, and it sucks for those asked to work that day. From my external view, much more than Americans, Brits have romanticized (I might say fetishized) Christmas to within an inch of its life. It’s like they don’t realize that Dickens was exaggerating for dramatic effect, not laying out a blueprint for social justice. I mean, it’s not like Christmas day even in the UK is a mandatory paid holiday for everyone. – certainly those cab drivers are out there trying to make a living. But that’s what it would take to try and shut down the entire world for 24 hours.

    * fun fact: Odeon’s founder, Oscar Deutsch, was of Hungarian-Jewish decent. I haven’t been able to discern the background of current CEO Jack Donovan. He doesn’t look Jewish, but my personal “Jew-dar”, which my maternal grandmother claimed was infallible, has never worked as advertised. I blame my father’s Irish/Pennsylvania Dutch background.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So you do kind of expect them to sit at home and think about what they’ve done. So much for pluralism.
    That is the argument, however inadvertently, you’re making.

  • RogerBW

    Can you really not think of things to do that don’t involve forcing someone else to work for you?

  • Dr. Rocketscience


    In fact, if you want to know my life, since moving from California to Colorado, where the number of extended family members within a reasonable drive went from “two many” to “2, and we don’t really like them anyway”, I pretty much stay at home and think about what I’ve done. :)

    But you’re operating from false premises: that the whole world should shut down for 24-some-odd hours on 25 December. That doing so is what everyone wants. I can speak to you from a personal, but shared, experience, that having nothing open on 25 December because all the Gentiles are busy with their “Christmas” is a huge pain in the ass. And more than a bit insulting, when you consider that it’s not like all the restaurants close from sunset to sunset on Yom Kippur.

  • There *are* some convenience stores and gas stations open in the UK on Christmas Day.

    I would argue that, for all that the UK has an official religion (which is Christian), unlike in the US, the UK is a far more secular nation, and Christmas is not primarily a religious holiday here. You certainly do not see creches and other religious symbols here like you do in the US.

    I think we need *more* enforced time off, not less. I would love it if we used the excuse that such-and-such day is sacred to this group of people, so let’s all get the day off, whether we celebrate it or not.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It’s a lovely thought, truly it is. But tying it to a specific religious festival, particularly one identified with the dominant religion, isn’t a neutral choice. (New Year’s Day might be better. New Year’s Day on a completely reinvented, international calendar would be best.)

    And it can’t just be a “day off”. Not for those for whom a day not worked is a day not paid. So, now in addition to mandating closing all business, we have to mandate a full day’s pay for all employees. And I’m sure that you of all people would want to see independent contractors and freelancers receive Christmas pay as well. So the (not insurmountable, but equally non-trivial) problems start mounting up.

    And of course, not everyone can ever have the day off, or you end up with The Purge.

  • I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It’s funny that nobody seems to find that whole “no public transit on Christmas” thing problematic. Especially since it suggests that it’s perfectly okay for a local bus driver to have the day off but granting the same privilege to the local cinema’s ticket-taker is at best some kind of social faux-pas.

  • I certainly wasn’t suggesting that.

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