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Ukraine moves official Christmas day in symbolic split from Russia

by Kelly Valencia

Ukrainians will now officially celebrate Christmas Day on 25th December in what's been described as an attempt to distance the country from its Russian heritage. Traditionally, Ukraine has celebrated Christmas on the 7th of January, following the Russian Orthodox Church, which adheres to the Gregorian calendar.

On Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the bill into law after the proposal received significant support. The bill aims to "abandon the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations."

The legislation also moves two other state holidays: the Day of Ukrainian Statehood, from 28th July to 15th July, and the Defenders' Day, commemorating armed forces veterans, from 14th October to 1st October.

Last year, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church allowed worshippers to celebrate Christmas on 25th December to make it easier for those who had fled the country to partake in the festivities, but they did not announce a permanent change to the traditions.

Ukraine's main Catholic Church and the recently formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine did make an official change to Christmas celebrations in May this year after a national online poll showed that 59 percent of over 1.5 million respondents supported moving Christmas in line with Western celebrations.

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