The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church officially changes the date of Christmas: from this 2023 it will be celebrated on December 25, and no longer on January 7, a date that united them with the Orthodox. This was announced today by the major archbishop of Kiev Sviatoslav Shevchuk, explaining that the change of the calendar will start on September 1st. The request to revise the date of one of the most important holidays for Christians had already been there for some time from the faithful but “the war has accelerated the decision-making process”, explain the Ukrainian Church. “A historic decision” was defined by Shevchuk himself. (THE LIVEBLOG ON THE WAR)
Reflection on the date of Easter
Sources of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church explain that the so-called “neo-Julian” calendar will be adopted, according to which the dates of the Gregorian calendar (the one followed by the Catholics) are adopted for the holidays associated with Christmas, while the dates for Easter remain of the Julian calendar. But this is for a transitional phase. In fact, there is a broader reflection on the date of Easter and in 2025, when the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea will be celebrated, a decision could be made to reunify the date of Easter not only within the Catholic galaxy but also among Catholics and Orthodox. A path in this direction was announced in recent months by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew. And even Pope Francis has repeatedly called for this reunification of the date of Easter for all Christians.
In 2023 the celebration of “two Christmases”
Returning instead to the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite, the possibility is given of maintaining the old date of January 7, even for Christmas, to parishes that do not feel like changing immediately but must have “the authorization of the local bishop” and in any case they will have to adapt to the new date of December 25 by 2025. This 2023 will therefore see the celebration of ‘two Christmases’ for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. It was in fact celebrated a month ago, on January 7, and will be celebrated again on December 25, but the latter will be definitively the date for the following years.