The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Ukraine’s primary Catholic church, announced on Monday that it will adopt a new calendar that will observe Christmas on December 25th instead of January 7th, as part of Ukraine’s efforts to sever cultural ties with Russia.
The announcement by the UGCC, which has nearly one-tenth of Ukrainians as followers, was greeted positively by the Culture Minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko.
“This decision is appropriate to the demands of our time and public opinion,” he wrote on Facebook, citing the results of a national online survey conducted by the government.
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.
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