For generations, Orthodox Ukrainians have regarded the traditional Julian calendar as a fundamental element of their church’s identity. However, in recent years, the Julian calendar has become linked with allegiance to Russian Orthodoxy rather than Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Recent adjustment in the calendar has significant implications, leading to the shift of Christmas celebrations for millions of Ukrainians from January 7 (the date observed by Russian and certain other Orthodox churches) to December 25. This change marks a departure from the traditional practice.
Christian Today reports:
For centuries, Orthodox Ukrainians saw the traditional Julian calendar as one of the anchors of their church’s identity — first as a sign of resistance to Latinization by the Catholic monarchs reigning in western Ukraine and then as resistance to the Soviet system. But in recent decades, the Julian calendar has become associated with support for Russian, not Ukrainian, Orthodoxy.
The calendar shift means millions of Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 this year instead of Jan. 7, when Russian and some other Orthodox churches celebrate. The Western Christian world adopted a revised calendar by papal decree in 1582 to correct calculations of Easter, while most of the world’s Eastern Orthodox churches began following it after a synod in 1924.
Furthermore, government restrictions targeting Russian-linked churches have been imposed at both local and regional levels. These measures have facilitated the state’s involvement, as it holds ownership of numerous historically significant church structures, in transferring leases to the recently established self-governing Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Currently, the proposed legislation is being reviewed in Ukraine’s Parliament, which, if passed, might lead to the prohibition of the older Ukrainian church.
In addition, government bans of the Russian-linked church at the local and regional levels have allowed the state, which owns many historic church buildings, to transfer leases to the newly self-governing Orthodox Church of Ukraine. A draft law under consideration by Ukraine’s Parliament could ban the older Ukrainian church. Lviv became the first city to ban it already, and dismantled what was reported to be its last remaining building in April.
“One of the reasons Russia needs to control its church so much is that those who influence the church have control of the country,” said Mikhailo Sivak, a priest at Intercession of the Theotokos Orthodox Cathedral. “If there are pro-Russians in Lviv they are few and silent. The number of Orthodox Church of Ukraine churches is increasing significantly each month.”
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