After calendar change, many in Ukraine are looking forward to a new Christmas

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Nearly five years after the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was recognized as independent from the Russian Orthodox Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the OCU has further cemented its split from the Russian counterpart by adopting a new liturgical calendar. “This is a decision that the majority of the faithful of our Church and the majority of Ukrainian society are waiting for from us,” the OCU said on its official Facebook page in late May, after its assembled bishops voted for the change. The decision still needs to be approved by the church’s ruling council in July, but it is expected to pass. The calendar shift is then slated to go into effect on Sept. 1 of this year. 
The most palpable impact will be that millions of Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas with the Western world on Dec. 25, instead of the day two weeks later when Russian and other Eastern Orthodox churches, following the Julian calendar, mark Christ’s birth.
Westerners adopted the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XII in the 16th century. 
Metropolitan Epiphanius, center right, and priests deliver an Orthodox Christmas service inside the nearly 1,000-year-old Pechersk Lavra Cathedral of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Hundreds of Ukrainians heard the Orthodox Christmas service in the Ukrainian language for the first time at Kyiv’s 1,000-year-old Lavra Cathedral on Orthodox Christmas Day, a demonstration of independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)
It’s not the first time an Orthodox church has shifted calendars; in fact, it’s …

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