(CTN News) – This year marks the first Christmas on December 25th for many Ukrainian Orthodox Christians.
Christmas in Ukraine takes place on January 7th since the country has always used the Julian calendar, which Russia also uses.
Moving further away from Russia, it celebrates Christmas using the Western, or Gregorian, calendar.
When asked about the July legislative amendment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it gave Ukrainians the freedom to “abandon the Russian heritage” of having Christmas in January.
According to Mr. Zelensky’s Christmas message, released Sunday evening, all Ukrainians are now together.
“Everyone comes together to enjoy Christmas as one large family, country, and united nation on the same date.
Married Catholic Lesia and Orthodox Russian husband Oleksandr Shestakov are in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, to celebrate Christmas together.
The two went to the city’s Catholic cathedral on Sunday morning for service (above), having celebrated Christmas twice so far with their parents.
“There is finally a day in Ukraine which my husband and I can spend together in the cathedral and thank God that we are together, alive and in good health,” according to Lesia to Reuters.
Additionally, the newly formed independent church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), moved its Christmas celebration to December 25th. The OCU had its first service in 2019.
As a result of Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine, it formally separated from the Russian Orthodox church.
On Sunday, people throughout the nation prayed and lit candles.
Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that has suffered little damage from the war, saw youngsters dressed in traditional costumes singing carols and participating in joyous processions.
Ukrainians are decorating a Christmas tree near Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Although many worshippers have recently joined the OCU, millions of others continue to observe Christmas on January 7th as members of the traditionally Russian-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).
Many continue to doubt the UOC’s claims that it severed ties with Moscow in 2022 in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The more Ukrainians there are, the better, and there will likely be those who celebrate twice.