Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has signed a law that officially moves the celebration of Christmas Day from January 7 to December 25. The previous date was in line with the Russian Orthodox Church’s observance of the holiday. The rationale behind the law, as stated in the attached explanatory note, is to distance Ukraine from its Russian heritage and influence. It aims to abandon the practice of celebrating Christmas on January 7, which was imposed by Russian traditions. Notably, some Ukrainians already observed Christmas on December 25 last year as a symbol of their separation from Russia and its religious and cultural customs. In addition to the change in Christmas Day, the law also shifts the Day of Ukrainian Statehood from July 28 to July 15, and the Day of Defenders of Ukraine from October 14 to October 1.
Religion News Service reports:
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday signed a law moving the official Christmas Day holiday to Dec. 25 from Jan. 7, the day when the Russian Orthodox Church observes it.
The explanatory note attached to the law said its goal is to “abandon the Russian heritage,” including that of “imposing the celebration of Christmas” on Jan. 7. It cited Ukrainians’ “relentless, successful struggle for their identity” and “the desire of all Ukrainians to live their lives with their own traditions, holidays,” fueled by Russia’s 17-month-old aggression against the country.
Last year, some Ukrainians already observed Christmas on Dec. 25, in a gesture that represented separation from Russia, its culture and religious traditions.
The law also moves the Day of Ukrainian Statehood to July 15 from July 28, and the Day of Defenders of Ukraine to Oct. 1 from Oct. 14.
The Russian Orthodox Church, which claims sovereignty over Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and some other Eastern Orthodox churches continue to use the ancient Julian calendar. Christmas falls 13 days later on that calendar, or Jan. 7, than it does on the Gregorian calendar used by most church and secular groups.
The Catholic Church first adopted the modern, more astronomically precise Gregorian calendar in the 16th century. Protestants and some Orthodox churches have since aligned their own calendars for the purpose of calculating Christmas and Easter.
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