Culture News, 25/12/2017

Ukrainians Celebrate Western Christmas as a State Holiday

This year for the first time, December 25 is an official day off in Ukraine as Western Christmas has become a national holiday.

The President of Ukraine and officials offered Ukrainians the possibility to join the majority of the Christian world and be closer to Europe with the celebrations of the Nativity of Christ according to the Gregorian calendar.

December 25 was recognized as a holiday in fourth-fifth centuries and has been celebrated as Christmas ever since.

Now, the Ukrainians, professing Christianity in the Western rite, have the opportunity to spend this inspiring holiday with their families and friends.

Ukrainian Catholics have a custom of decorating their homes with pine or fir boughs and arrange the special exhibition – vertep – representing the birth of Jesus with art objects: figures, depicting the infant Jesus, his mother Mary and her husband Joseph.

On December 25, three worship services are traditionally conducted. At midnight, the public liturgy, symbolizing the unity of the Father and the Son, is held. The following two glorify the emergence of a new life and bring this good news to the believers.

The Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, by 2007 information, has 905 communities, 88 monasteries and 713 churches with about 1.5 million believers.

Reference: December 25 was declared a public holiday on November 16, 2017, when the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for the bill. The relevant law was signed by the President of Ukraine on November 29.

Text, photo: Olena Sokolynska