Ukraine has moved its official Christmas holiday to December 25, breaking with the Russian Orthodox Church, which celebrates it on January 7 in line with the Julian calendar. Source: SBS News.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted a bill pushing for the change in June, with the aim of moving away from “the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations” in January.
Ukraine’s Parliament voted in favour of changing the date of the Orthodox Christmas holiday earlier this month, with Mr Zelenskyy signing the bill on Friday.
The bill highlight’s the deepening rift between churches in Kyiv and Moscow since Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
“The relentless and successful struggle for their identity contributes to … the desire of every Ukrainian to live their own life with their own traditions and holidays,” reads an explanatory note to the bill on the Parliament’s website.
Ukraine had been under Moscow’s spiritual leadership since at least the 17th century. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine has been trying to cut ties over its Soviet and Russian past.
December 25 was made a public holiday in 2017, and part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church broke with Moscow in 2019.
Prior to the new legislation being introduced, two of Ukraine’s three largest churches with Orthodox status had already decided to begin using the Gregorian calendar.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially declared a split from Moscow in 2022. Last year, in a symbol of defiance following Russia’s invasion, an increasing number of Orthodox Ukrainians celebrated Christmas on December 25.