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Sky News: Ukraine to celebrate Christmas on 25 December officially for first time

Christmas Kyiv
Christmas in Kyiv, 2016. Photo: Olena Makarenko

Many Ukrainians are preparing to celebrate Christmas on 25 December for the first time as the country adopted the Western, Gregorian calendar’s date for this holiday, Sky News reported.

Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians. The country’s churches have traditionally celebrated the holiday on 7 January, following the Julian calendar, which Russia also uses.

In July 2023, the Ukrainian Parliament changed the dates of three holidays, traditionally celebrated based on the Julian calendar: Christmas, Ukrainian Statehood Day, and the Day of Defenders of Ukraine.

Later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the bill into law making 25 December the official Christmas holiday to break more ties with the Russian past amid the all-out war that broke out in February 2022. Before this reform, Ukrainians de facto had two Christmasses.

A public opinion poll found in late 2022 that a third of Ukrainians, or 36%, celebrated Christmas either exclusively on 25 December or both 25 December and 7 January, while most Ukrainians, or 55%, were still sticking to the traditional Orthodox Church’s Julian calendar date of 7 January.

Now, Ukrainian MP and leader of the Golos Zmin Party, Kira Rudik, stated that changing the date to 25 December was “incredibly important.”

“We are joining our European family in all aspects of our life including the day when we celebrate Christmas.

“It is critically important not only for people in their everyday life but it is (also) important in the level of culture, on the level of business when we will have the holidays at the same date.”

“We are celebrating like the whole democratic progressive world,” Ms. Rudik said.

Back in February, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, leader of Ukraine’s second-largest Greek-Catholic Church, announced that his church would reform its calendar, transitioning from the Julian calendar to the Revised Julian Calendar in a symbolic break with Moscow.  The Revised Julian calendar proposed in 2023 generally matches the Gregorian calendar but is slightly more accurate.

Ukraine persistently severs symbolic links with Moscow, extending beyond altering church holiday dates. The nation actively pursues de-communization and de-russification efforts, which involve the removal of Soviet and Russian monuments and renaming streets and towns honoring such figures.

For example, Kyiv City has recently removed more than 60 Soviet monuments and other objects from public space.

Decommunization: Kyiv City dismantled over 60 Soviet monuments, 56 more slated for removal

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