Ukraine Moves Christmas Day In Huge Snub To Russia

On Sunday, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians gathered for worship as the nation readied itself to celebrate Christmas on December 25th, as opposed to January 7th, when the majority of Orthodox believers observed the holiday.

The government made the decision to make this change.

“All Ukrainians are united,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said Ukrainians gather as a family to celebrate Christmas, all together at the same time, as one large family, as one country, as one joined nation.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar used in daily life and by Western churches, the Julian calendar is utilized by most Eastern Christian churches. According to this calendar, Christmas is observed on January 7.

The schism between the two Orthodox Christian groups was already widening before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified the situation. Patriarch Kirill, who presided over Russia’s Orthodox Church, supported the invasion wholeheartedly and cast it as a clash of cultures between Russia and the West. What some Ukrainian churches have been doing informally will now be formally codified by legislation. Among the approximately 1.5 million Ukrainians who cast ballots in a December government-sponsored poll, roughly 59% favored shifting Christmas to December 25.

This date change is only one more step in the rush to erase all memories of the Russian and Soviet empires that have occurred since the invasion. Other measures include renaming streets and tearing down monuments. In 2014, due to Moscow’s invasion of Crimea and backing for rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine officially separated from the Russian Orthodox Church. The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine is rapidly expanding and has taken over several church structures associated with churches tied to Russia, a trend backed by the government as a result of the political split. Priests and whole parishes have been moving from one church to another.