Ukraine celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25 for the first time, distancing itself from Russia

by Lucas Garcia
Christmas Date Change

Ukraine marked a significant departure this year in its celebration of Christmas, choosing to observe it on December 25 instead of the later date followed by Russia. This change, established through legislation signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in July, holds a dual significance. It reflects the Ukrainian people’s disapproval of the ongoing Russian invasion, now spanning 22 months, and serves as a statement of their national identity.

The majority of Ukrainians adhere to Orthodox Christianity, yet this faith is divided between two churches, one of which has historically been closely associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which broke away from the Russian church and was considered schismatic, gained full recognition in 2019 from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest authority in Orthodoxy. In contrast, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, previously a branch of the Russian church, declared its autonomy in 2022, amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, it continues to follow the liturgical calendar of the Russian church, observing Christmas on January 7.

The decision to celebrate Christmas on December 25 was embraced with enthusiasm by many Ukrainians. Yevhen Konyk, a 44-year-old serviceman, articulated, “It’s historical justice.” He, along with his family, participated in traditional celebrations in Kyiv, emphasizing the importance of moving forward with their country’s traditions and overcoming remnants of imperialism.

In Kryvorivnia, a village in the Carpathian mountains, thousands of worshipers, some adorned in traditional attire, gathered to celebrate Christmas. While the village is relatively distant from the frontlines, the war weighed heavily on the minds of those in attendance. Local priest Ivan Rybaruk noted that 16 people from the village, which has only 1,500 residents, have lost their lives in the fighting. This somber reality tempered the joy of the celebration.

Oksana Poviakel, director of the Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine in Kyiv, highlighted the significance of observing Christmas on December 25 as “another important factor of self-identification.” For many Ukrainians, it represents a separation from their neighbor, Russia, which is currently engaged in destructive actions against Ukraine.

Asia Landarenko, a 63-year-old, expressed the profound impact of the ongoing war, saying that her daily prayers are for her son, who is serving in the military. She added, “The real celebration of Christmas will be after the victory.” In these trying times, the hope for peace and victory remains a central theme in the hearts of many Ukrainians as they navigate this change in their Christmas traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Christmas Date Change

Why did Ukraine change its Christmas date to December 25?

Ukraine changed its Christmas date to December 25 as a reflection of its national identity and a departure from Russia’s traditions, following legislation signed by President Zelenskyy in July.

What prompted this change in Christmas celebration?

The change was prompted by Ukrainians’ dismay with the ongoing Russian invasion, which has lasted for 22 months, and their desire to assert their distinct national identity.

Is Ukraine predominantly Orthodox Christian?

Yes, Ukraine is predominantly Orthodox Christian, but it has two separate churches. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine gained recognition in 2019 and didn’t recognize the Russian Orthodox Church’s authority. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, formerly a Russian church branch, declared autonomy in 2022 but still follows the Russian liturgical calendar.

How did Ukrainians react to celebrating Christmas on December 25?

Many Ukrainians embraced the change with enthusiasm, considering it as historical justice and a step towards preserving their traditions and national identity.

Did the war in Ukraine impact the Christmas celebrations?

Yes, the war weighed heavily on the minds of celebrants. In some areas, people mourned the loss of loved ones who had died in the conflict, which tempered the usual festive atmosphere.

What significance does celebrating Christmas on December 25 hold for Ukrainians?

Observing Christmas on December 25 signifies a separation from Russia, which is currently involved in destructive actions against Ukraine. It’s seen as a statement of unity and self-identification.

More about Christmas Date Change

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JohnDoe77 December 26, 2023 - 9:18 am

ukraine makin a big move here! i like how they stick it to russia. they was right to change the xmas date. war is sad tho 🙁

NewsJunkie123 December 26, 2023 - 6:34 pm

change impotant 4 Ukraine, assert identity, sepreate from russia’s shadow, celebr8 on 25th now!

SeriousThinker101 December 26, 2023 - 7:33 pm

This article covers Ukraine’s Christmas shift well. Important in these times. We must consider the impact of conflicts on celebrations. Good job.


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