Ukraine Moves Public Holiday Dates away from Russian Dates


On Friday July 28th 2023, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law moving the official Orthodox Christmas Day holiday to December 25th from January 7th, the day when the Russian Orthodox Church observes it.

The explanatory note attached to the law said its goal is to “abandon the Russian heritage,” including that of “imposing the celebration of Christmas” on January 7th. The note mentioned Ukrainians’ “relentless, successful struggle for their identity” and “the desire of all Ukrainians to live their lives with their own traditions, holidays.”

In November 2017, Ukrainian MPs voted to make Catholic Christmas a national holiday, meaning there will be two Christmases in the Ukraine as Orthodox Christmas Day is already a national holiday on January 7th. The extra Christmas was creating by removing the second day of holidays for May Day.

The new law also moves the Day of Ukrainian Statehood to July 15th from July 28th, and the Day of Defenders of Ukraine to October 1st from October 14th.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which claims sovereignty over Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and some other Eastern Orthodox churches continue to use the ancient Julian calendar. Christmas falls 13 days later on that calendar, or January 7th, than on the Gregorian calendar used by most churches 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.

There are two branches of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine, one partly aligned with the Russian church, the other completely independent of it.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the branch that is separate from the Russian church, announced earlier this year that it was switching to the Revised Julian calendar, which marks Christmas on December 25th. Its leadership last year allowed believers to celebrate the holiday on December 25th.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the rival Orthodox Church, which is aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, vowed to continue observing Christmas on January 7th.

Public Holidays in Ukraine

Catholic Christmas Day in Ukraine

Ukrainian Statehood Day

Day of the Defenders of Ukraine