President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wanted to ‘abandon Russian heritage’ as the country ‘imposed the celebration of Christmas’ on January 7 in Ukraine.
The Russian Orthodox Church claims sovereignty over Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
Zelensky also cited Ukrainian’s ‘relentless, successful struggle for their identity’ and ‘the desire of all Ukrainians to live their lives with their own traditions, holidays’.
Last year, some living in the war torn country observed the Christian holiday on December 25 in a gesture representing separation from Russia’s religious traditions.
The law also moves the Day of Ukrainian Statehood to July 15 from July 28, and the Day of Defenders of Ukraine to October 1 from October 14.
The Russian Orthodox Church and some other Eastern Orthodox churches continue to use the ancient Julian calendar.
Christmas falls 13 days later on that calendar than it does on the Gregorian calendar used by most church and secular groups.
The Catholic Church first adopted the modern, more astronomically precise Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.
Protestants and some Orthodox churches have since aligned their own calendars for the purpose of calculating Christmas and Easter.
Ukraine’s religious landscape has been fractured for years.
There are two branches of Orthodox Christianity in the country, one aligned with the Russian church, even as it enjoys broad autonomy, the other completely independent of it.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the branch separate from the Russian church, announced earlier this year it was switching to the Revised Julian calendar, which marks Christmas on December 25.
Its leadership last year allowed believers to celebrate the holiday on December 25.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti said on Saturday the rival Orthodox Church, which is aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, vowed to continue observing Christmas on January 7.
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