Old Calendar Christmas no longer a public holiday in Ukraine

Kiev, July 14, 2023

Photo: snmsewadal.org Photo: snmsewadal.org     

The Ukrainian Parliament voted today to cancel the public celebration of Old Calendar Christmas on January 7.

President Zelensky submitted the relevant bill to the Verkhovna Rada late last month.

From now on, the only federally recognized Christmas celebration will be on December 25. 241 Deputies in favor of the change, and only 2 against. 65 didn’t vote, reports the Telegram channel Politika Strany.

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 was previously an official federal holiday.

December 25 became a public holiday only in 2017. The Rada made the relevant decision at that time given the number of Roman Catholics in the country.

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.

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, the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric, and on Mt. Athos.

The law adopted today also moves 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 are no longer public holidays.

The changes will take effect on September 1.

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