Putin’s Attack on Ukraine Is a Religious War. Incredible insight to the schism of Russian orthodoxy

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Ukraine moves Christmas date to 25 December in snub to Russia​

Ukrainian church has traditionally observed the holiday on 7 January, in line with the Moscow patriarchy​

Ukrainian service personnel decorate a Christmas tree with ammunition, near Soledar, Ukraine, in January 2023.

Ukrainian service personnel decorate a Christmas tree with ammunition, near Soledar, Ukraine, in January 2023. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Ukraine has moved its official Christmas holiday to 25 December in a break with the Russian Orthodox church, which celebrates it on 7 January.

The bill signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday highlights the deepening rift between churches in Kyiv and Moscow since Russia’s invasion of its pro-western neighbour.



“The relentless and successful struggle for their identity contributes to … the desire of every Ukrainian to live their own life with their own traditions and holidays,” reads an explanatory note to the bill on the parliament’s website.

The church has traditionally observed Christmas on 7 January, at the same time as the Moscow patriarchy, which has given its blessing to Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, is a prominent Putin supporter and has said Russian soldiers who are killed will be cleansed of all their sins. Last year the Orthodox church of Ukraine allowed worshippers to celebrate Christmas on 25 December.

The purpose of the new law was to “abandon the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations on 7 January”, the note said.

Ukraine had been under Moscow’s spiritual leadership since at least the 17th century but part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church broke with Moscow in 2019 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in the east of their country.


The Russia-backed branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church also said it had severed ties with Moscow in May 2022.

The move to 25 December is part of a bigger national process of dismantling the symbols of Russia, the Soviet Union and communism, which took off in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea and kickstarted a pro-Moscow uprising in the eastern Donbas region.
 

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ANALYSIS: Russian Orthodox Church Hails Moscow’s Imperialist Expansionism as a ‘Holy War’
Moscow Patriarchate calls for the conquest and absorption of the Ukrainian and Belarusian nations into an ultranationalist ‘Russian world'.
 
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