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Orthodox Christians 'shift Christmas date' in Ukraine

Celebrated 25/12 and not 7/1, change to Easter as well

27 December, 16:10

    ROME - Even the date of Christmas has been affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

    This year there was a rise in the percentage of  Orthodox Christians that celebrated Dec. 25 and that thus no longer want to celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, the date traditionally used by Russian Christians and others in Russia.

    Starting in 2023 Ukrainian calendars will include only Dec. 25 as Christmas.

    With different Christmas traditions in the country, Christmas in Ukraine has until now been celebrated either on Dec. 25 - in line with the Gregorian calendar followed by the Catholic world - or Jan. 7, on the basis of the Julian calendar.

    "But in the end, many families celebrated both days," the bishop of Kiev of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite, Mons.

    Vitalii Kryvytskyi, said, since Christian families are often "mixed" between Latin Catholics, Greek Catholics, Ukrainian Orthodox, and Orthodox under the patriarch of Moscow.

    The war has speeded up this process. This Christmas might be the last one in which celebrations are possible in Ukraine on the same day as Orthodox Christians in Russia celebrate it, Jan.

    7, since a measure is being discussed that would ban this Church on accusations of collaborating with the Kremlin.

    The Greek Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church that separated from the Patriarch of Moscow have decided to start a process to unify the date of Christmas as Dec. 25.

    The site of the UGCC, which is Catholic of Byzantine Rite, gave the news that the head of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine met on Dec. 24 to start a reunification process for this date.

    During the meeting, the two also discussed the date of next Easter, a holiday that is even more important for Christians and which due to different calendars is almost never celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox on the same date. The next time the date is expected to be celebrated on the same day is in 2025.

    However, the Orthodox world - which also in other countries has taken its distance from Patriarch Kirill, a friend of Putin's and supporter of the war - had already at the beginning of the month began a process to celebrate Easter on the same day as Catholics.

    The Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spoke on this subject recently, noting that - if the plan goes ahead - Russian will be the only ones to celebrate not only Christmas but also Easter on the basis of the Julian calendar.

    Pope Francis has nonetheless urged that the reunification of dates occur without fractures among the Orthodox.

    "Come to an agreement and we will go where you say," he said in a meeting with the Assyrian Church just over a month ago in speaking about Easter. (ANSAmed).

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