In a move that distances it from Russia, Ukraine’s main Orthodox church said on Wednesday it had decided to switch to a calendar where Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25.
Ukrainian Christians, the majority of whom are Orthodox, have traditionally celebrated Christmas on January 7 alongside other predominantly Orthodox Christian countries such as Russia, which invaded Ukraine last year.
“This question arose with new impetus as a result of Russian aggression,” the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change away from the Julian calendar.
“Nowadays, the Julian calendar is perceived as connected with Russian church culture,” it said. Ukraine’s main Catholic church, which considers about one in 10 Ukrainians to be worshippers, announced a similar change in February.
The OCU said it would use the Revised Julian calendar from September 1, the start of the liturgical year. It said parishes would have the option to celebrate according to the old Julian calendar if they wished.
A Ukrainian government poll last December showed 59% of the more than 1.5 million respondents supported moving Christmas celebrations to December 25.
Ukraine’s culture minister has previously expressed support for the switch in calendars, describing it as “appropriate to the demands of our time and public opinion.”