Orthodox Church of Ukraine officially approves new Christmas date


Eastern Europe


A Christmas star reading ‘# Peace for Ukraine’ hangs in between artificial flowers. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine moves further and further away from its Russian Orthodox roots. Switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar is a step in this process. Photo EPA, Clemens Bilan

The highest authority of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has agreed with the change of the ecclesiastical calendar. That means that the Orthodox denomination will no longer celebrate Christmas on January 7 but on December 25.

The Local Council is the highest decision-making body in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. On Thursday, it approved the proposal that was already approved by the Bishops’ Conference in May, Religion Pravda writes. In total, 156 members of the local council were in favour of switching from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one. Five of them were against it, religious scholar Andrii Smirnow writes on Facebook.

The transition will take place on September 1, 2023. From then on, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will follow the calendar that is usually used by Western churches and leave the Julian calendar, which is common in Eastern Orthodox communities. The move is often seen as an explicit distancing from the Russian Orthodox Church, from which the OCU broke away earlier.


The Local Council consists of bishops, delegates from the clergy, monks and laity from each diocese. Every five years, it meets to take important decisions about church life. Historically, decisions approved by the Local Council become part of the church law.



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