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Ukrainians to defy Moscow with first Dec 25 Christmas
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Ukrainians to defy Moscow with first Dec 25 Christmas

Several Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas Day on Dec 25 for the first time, after the government transformed the date from the Orthodox Church observance of Jan 7, in a snub to Russia. Ukraine issued a law in July moving the celebration to Dec 25, the day when most of the Christian world celebrates Christmas. The law signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukrainians wished to “live their own life with their own traditions and holidays”. It permits them to “abandon the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations on Jan 7”, it said. Christianity is the hugest religion in Ukraine, with the Russian Orthodox Church ruling over religious life until recently.

Like the Russian Church, most eastern Christian churches use the Julian calendar, dating back to Roman times, rather than the Gregorian calendar used in everyday life. The date change is part of hastened moves since the invasion to abolish traces of the Russian and Soviet empires, such as renaming streets and eradicating monuments. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a freshly created independent church that held its first service in 2019, has also transformed its Christmas date to Dec 25. It previously broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its standing up for separatists in eastern Ukraine. The political rift has kept an eye on priests and even complete parishes move from one church to another, with the fresh Orthodox Church of Ukraine increasing fast and taking over many Russia-linked church buildings in moves led by the government.