By Sean O'Donnell - 02 December, 2017
“It is great joy to the faithful, who often had to go to work or school and who will now be able to celebrate Christmas in full.” - Archbishop of Lviv
Ukraine’s MPs have voted to establish 25th December as a public holiday, a move warmly welcomed by the Bishops’ Conference of Ukraine.
The Episcopal Conference President, Most Rev Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, said in a statement, “We are very grateful to the Parliament, it is great joy to the faithful, who often had to go to work or school and who will now be able to celebrate Christmas in full.” He continued, “It will also be a huge convenience since until now, people could only go to the church in the evening. Since many families are mixed, it will strengthen community bonds.”
Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary of the National Security Defence Council of Ukraine, said that the decision would further strengthen and develop the relationship and integration between Ukraine and Europe.
However, the decision was not welcomed by the largest Orthodox Church in Ukraine which is linked to the Patriarchate in Moscow. Its Information Director, Archbishop Irpen Kliment in a condemnatory statement said, “Christ was born once not twice! The overwhelming majority of citizens celebrate Christmas on 7th January. By trying to convert Christmas from a religious event into a farce, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) clearly doesn’t care much about the views of Ukrainians”.
There are 15 Orthodox Churches across the world, 10 of which celebrate Christmas on 25th December.