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Ukrainians encouraged to switch Christmas celebration day to 25th December

by Kelly Valencia

For the first time in centuries, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will allow worshippers to celebrate Christmas on 25th December, as marked by the Gregorian calendar. 

The East and the West have followed and highlighted different holidays since the Great Schism in 1054. The West follows the Gregorian calendar celebrating the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) in December while the East celebrates it in January and puts more emphasis on Easter. 

The move away from the Julian calendar date of 7th January is being seen as a "very symbolic" sign of the Church wanting to align with the West and further depart from the Russian Orthodox Church. 

"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in large part has, since 2019, and increasingly in 2022, broken away from any control by Moscow. That's gone down very, very badly within Moscow, as you can understand, because the Patriarch there, Kirill has supported the invasion of Ukraine," Martyn Whittock, Christian author and historian told Premier. 

He continued: "Now, those Orthodox believers in Ukraine, who are now independent of Moscow, are being encouraged to consider celebrating Christmas in line with the Western Church, not the Moscow controlled Church. It's a way of detaching themselves even more from Moscow. It's very complicated, but it's also very, very symbolic."

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine made the decision last month, after the Church's Synod met to discuss the organisation of Christmas religious services for those outside Ukraine.

In a statement, the Church argued the decision was made "for the purpose of organising service for the faithful of the OCU, who were forced to temporarily find themselves outside the borders of Ukraine as a result of the war". 

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine has more than 7,000 parishes across the country.

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