Ukraine officially celebrates Christmas on December 25 for the first time Russia-Ukraine War News

The change reflects Ukrainians' dismay at the 22-month-long Russian invasion and their insistence on a national identity.

Ukrainians celebrated Christmas on December 25 for the first time as part of an ongoing effort to rid their country of Russian influence.

The change, signed into law by President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, reflects both the 22-month Russian invasion and Ukrainians' dismay at their insistence on a national identity.

Ukraine used to celebrate Christmas in January as the Russians used to do.

“This is historical justice,” said 44-year-old Yevan Koenig, who, along with his family, took part in traditional celebrations at an open-air museum in Kiev.

“We must move forward not only with the world but also with the traditions of our country and overcome the remnants of imperialism that we had.”

Ukraine is largely Orthodox Christian, but the faith is divided between two churches, one of which has a long association with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which does not recognize the authority of the Russian Church and is considered schismatic, was granted full recognition in 2019 by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest authority of Orthodoxy.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a branch of the Russian Church, severed ties with Moscow in 2022 and declared autonomy after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

However, its parishes continue to follow the same liturgical calendar as the Russian Church and observe Christmas on January 7.

Many Ukrainians enthusiastically embraced the move to celebrate Christmas on a date aligned with the rest of Western Europe.

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Oksana Poviakel, director of the Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine, where the Christmas celebrations took place, said celebrating December 25 was “another important factor of self-identification”.

“We are separating ourselves from our neighbors who are currently trying to destroy our state, killing our people, destroying our homes and burning our land,” he said.

Asia Landarenko, 63, said she prays every day for her son, who is in the army.

“The state of war affects everything, including the mood. The real celebration of Christmas will be after the victory, but as the Savior is born, so will our victory,” he said.

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