Ukrainian Embrace December 25 for Official Christmas Celebration
Seen as a deliberate gesture against Russia, Ukraine has chosen to formally observe Christmas on December 25 this year, breaking from its longstanding tradition of celebrating X-Mas on January 7. This marks a historic shift for Ukrainians, aligning their Christmas celebration with the Gregorian calendar, in sync with the majority of the global Christian community, and deviating from the old Julian calendar shared with Russia.
The decision to shift the Christmas celebration date in Ukraine was prompted by discussions held before Russia initiated what it terms its “special military operation” in the country. The move reflects a deliberate departure from the shared tradition with Russia, as Ukraine historically observed Christmas on January 7, following the old Julian calendar, similar to Russia.
Prior to Russia’s initiation of what it terms a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Ukrainian media reports indicate that the concept of celebrating Christmas on December 25 was already under discussion. In alignment with Russia, Ukraine had historically observed the holiday on January 7, adhering to the old Julian calendar.
The ongoing debate, which commenced in 2019, over changing the Christmas celebration date in Ukraine was significantly influenced by the Russian invasion of the country. In response, the Ukrainian government passed legislation in July to officially shift the date. This move was perceived as a deliberate snub to Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, which had maintained some influence in Kyiv until recently.
President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the bill into law, emphasizing Ukrainians’ desire to lead a life rooted in their own traditions and holidays. The legislative change was seen as an opportunity to break free from the Russian heritage of observing Christmas on January 7. The initiative to alter the date traces back to the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, an independent church that conducted its inaugural service in 2019.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine’s formal separation from the Russian Orthodox Church occurred due to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine. The sentiment behind the shift is articulated by a parishioner named Olena, who expressed a desire to celebrate Christmas in unity with the global community, distancing themselves from Moscow. She emphasized the significance of celebrating with an independent Ukraine.
Ukrainian Christmas traditions encompass a Christmas Eve dinner featuring 12 meatless dishes, including a sweet grain pudding known as kutya. The festivities commence after the first star rises, marked by the lighting of a Christmas candle, a prayer, and a food blessing.
Ukraine’s Kherson witnessed a tragic toll as at least four individuals lost their lives, and nine others sustained injuries in the last 24 hours due to Russian bombardment, according to a statement by the region’s governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, posted on Telegram on Sunday (Dec 24). The assault, involving 71 shells fired by Russian forces from Saturday to Sunday morning, targeted Kherson’s city center, residential zones, medical and educational institutions, along with critical infrastructure facilities, as reported by Prokudin.