President Zelensky introduces bill to cancel celebration of Old Calendar Christmas, following Uniates and schismatics

Kiev, June 29, 2023

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Following the lead of the Uniate Greek Catholics and the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” President Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine introduced a bill yesterday to cancel the national celebration of Old Calendar Christmas on January 7.

The feast of the Nativity of Christ has always been celebrated according to the Old Calendar in Ukraine, together with the majority of the Orthodox world, and the day is an official federal holiday. In 2017, the Parliament also made December 25 a national holiday, given the significant number of Roman Catholics in Ukraine.

In the past several years, and especially since the start of the war in February 2022, Ukrainian nationalists and authorities have been fighting to move away from their own traditions, characterizing them as “Russian” traditions. Thus, in February of this year, the Uniate Greek Catholics decided to switch to the New Calendar beginning on September 1.

In May, the schismatic OCU made the same decision.

Interestingly, they acknowledged that the move represents an abandonment of Ukrainian tradition. In the relevant resolution, the OCU Council of Bishops states that “for several centuries the traditional Julian calendar was perceived as one of the main identifiers of Ukrainian Church culture.” It was seen as a sign of resistance to Latinization and later to the Soviet system.

However, now the Old Calendar is perceived of as connected to Russian Church culture, the OCU hierarchs write, and so the OCU must make the change to the New Calendar, and they called on the state to follow their lead.

And yesterday, President Zelensky submitted a bill to cancel the celebration of Old Calendar Christmas, meaning millions of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians will be obliged, at least officially, to work on the great feast.

The explanatory note to the bill states that “the purpose of the bill is to abandon the Russian legacy of imposing the Nativity of Christ on January 7 and establish the date of the celebration of Christmas on December 25.”

The submitted documents refer to the recent decision of the schismatics.

The Julian calendar, according to which the feast of the Nativity of Christ is celebrated December 25/January 7, is also strictly adhered to by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Polish Orthodox Church, and on Mt. Athos.

The bill also calls to move the celebration of the Day of Ukrainian Statehood, which coincides with the feast of St. Vladimir the Great, from July 28 to the New Calendar date of July 15, and the Day of the Defenders of Ukraine, which is associated with the feast of the Holy Protection, from October 14 to October 1. Thus, July 28 and October 14 would also cease to be public holidays.

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