| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Ukraine’s main Catholic church moves Christmas to Dec. 25 in pivot to West

In an effort by Ukrainian institutions to sever cultural ties to Russia, the country’s largest Catholic church said on Monday that it will switch to a new calendar that would see Christmas celebrated on December 25 rather than January 7.

Oleksandr Tkachenko, the minister of culture in Ukraine, applauded the action taken by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), which is attended by less than ten percent of the country’s population.

Citing the findings of a government-conducted national online survey, he remarked on Facebook, “This decision is acceptable to the demands of our time and public opinion.”

That poll, held in December 2022, showed 59% of over 1.5 million respondents supported moving Christmas celebrations to Dec. 25, when the feast is celebrated in Western Europe.

Last month, Tkachenko expressed hope that all of Ukraine’s churches would agree to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25.

Monday’s announcement by the UGCC made it the first to do so.

Until now, all major churches in majority-Orthodox Ukraine followed the Julian calendar, which celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7. That is also the date on which Russia celebrates the feast.

The UGCC was hitherto one of few churches worldwide to recognise Papal authority while simultaneously following the Julian calendar, which the Vatican replaced with the amended Gregorian calendar in 1582.

The UGCC’s head, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, said that fixed-date feasts such as Christmas would move to the new calendar, but movable feasts such as Easter would still be celebrated according to the old calendar.

  • Reuters