In a slap to Russia, Ukraine moves Christmas Day.
President Volodymyr Zelensky approved a parliamentary bill to “abandon the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations.”
Kyiv has broken religious, cultural, and other links with Russia in recent years, aligning itself with the West.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, this process accelerated.
Mr Zelensky signed the bill on Friday, two weeks after Ukrainian parliament approved it.
The legislation also shifts another state holiday, Day of Ukrainian Statehood, from July 28 to July 15, and Defenders’ Day, which honors veterans of the armed forces, from October 14 to October 1.
So yet, Moscow has made no public comments on the matter.
For centuries, both imperial Russia and the Moscow-dominated Soviet Union attempted – but failed – to completely govern Ukraine.
This includes the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) imposing power over Ukraine’s churches.
However, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of the global Orthodox Church, gave independence to the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in 2019.
The measure sparked outrage in the ROC, which openly defends President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Until this year, the OCU, like several other Orthodox churches, including the ROC, observed Christmas on January 7, following the Julian calendar.
However, the OCU has now officially moved to the more precise Gregorian calendar, which is used in the majority of the world.
Ukraine’s plan to relocate Christmas is the latest in the country’s efforts to distinguish itself from its northern neighbor.
Streets in cities and towns around Ukraine have recently been renamed after Russian and Soviet historical heroes.
Similarly, a number of monuments have been demolished, and Russian films released after 2014 have been prohibited in Ukraine.
These regulations were enacted in response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine’s southern Crimean peninsula in March 2014.