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Ukrainian Roman Catholics celebrate Christmas as an official holiday for the first time ever

Editor’s Note

On 25 December, Christians around the world celebrated Christmas.
Most of Ukrainians mark Christmas on 7 January, because all Christian Orthodox Churches popular in Ukrainian and even the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are using the archaic Julian calendar, which is 14 days late and its 25 December falls on 7 January by the world’s most common Gregorian calendar. However, 25 December has officially become a state holiday in Ukraine, making it a country having two official Christmases. Ukrainian Roman Catholics have celebrated Christmas on 25 December as an official Ukrainian holiday for the first time ever.

For the most faithful, on this day, going to mass or other church services is essential. UATV visited one such service – at St. Alexander Cathedral here in Kyiv.

For Catholics, Christmas morning started with prayer and repentance. Unlike most Ukrainians, Mariia Lozova is Greek Catholic. Her family has a tradition of celebrating Christmas twice a year.

Mariia Lozova, parishioner:

I celebrate Christmas on the 25th, mostly symbolically, with the entire Catholic world, and with Christian churches, more spiritually. And on the 7th we break the fast because the body must receive pleasure too. I prepare kutia and 12 dishes, as I was taught by my grandmother and great-grandmother.

The service in this church has not yet started. But the children are already preparing for their Christmas presentation of the nativity scene. Mariia is playing one of the sheep present at the birth of Christ.

Mariia Dziuba, parishioner:

This means that today is really a holiday and it blesses all people. We silently say “take it away” and then “baaaaa”.

In the Holy Scripture, it’s said that Jesus Christ was born in a barn, sheltered from the weather, and attended by shepherds. Angels and Magi came to worship the baby. This scene is recreated in millions of churches and homes around the world.

Valeriia and Vladyslav Zhanovski:

There’s the star which helped the shepherds and kings to find the road to Bethlehem to see Jesus.

Also it symbolizes the Birth of Jesus, and the people around him are Joseph and Mary, his parents.

This Christmas service is more solemn than the other ones.

Father Vitalii, pastor of Saint Alexander Roman Catholic Parish:

During working days, people only came to the service in the evening, and on the morning of the 25th, they had to go to work. But today the church is full of people. This gave us the ability to celebrate the holiday at home with one’s family or to go to church.

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