What Is Behind the Appearance of Catholic Christmas on the List of Holidays in Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada voted for the bill establishing Catholic Christmas as a day off in Ukraine, reported the official site of the Ukrainian parliament.

According to the statement, the new bill declares December 25th as a day off, because the Roman Catholic Church celebrates this day as Christmas. At the same time the bill cancelled the day off on May 2nd, leaving May 1st as the only day off.

The innocent change of the holidays in the calendar is explained by the fact that in Ukraine about a third of believers profess Protestantism and Catholicism, that’s why the new law will allow to celebrate Christmas both on December 25th and on January 7th. The Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church celebrates Christmas together with Orthodox Christians — on January 7th.

However, against the background of the constant hidden and, at times, obvious persecution on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy), this news doesn’t seem to be simply an unexpected tribute to the nationalist authorities of tolerance. Moreover, the Kiev authorities (and long before 2014) didn’t seek to demonstrate loyalty to the UOC MP and practically condoned the seize of more than 40,000 churches of the Canonical Orthodox parishes by schismatics of the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchy (unrecognized by any Orthodox Church in the world) and Catholics.

Therefore there is a question: isn’t the appearance of Catholic Christmas on the list of “independent” Ukraine’s red dates of the calendar one more step on the way to reformatting the consciousness of Ukrainians and their separation from Russian civilization?

Two years ago war was declared against the Great Patriotic War. In order to erase in young Ukrainians the historical memory of the common fight with Russia against fascism, the celebration was postponed to May 8th. And recently the very concept of the Great Patriotic War was dropped from Ukrainian legislation.

However, regardless of what Ukrainian politicians say, Orthodoxy in Ukraine has existed for more than 100 years, despite the fact that it experienced hard times more than once. Will it be possible, with the help of technologies of the “Overton window”, to do what the Szlachta and Livonian Order failed to do — to imperceptibly turn Ukrainians into Catholics?

“I wouldn’t start dramatising the fact that the day of Catholic Christmas in Ukraine was declared a day off,” said the doctor of historical sciences, the dean of historical and philological faculty of the Russian Orthodox University Sergey Perevezentsev. “Finally, a considerable part of Ukrainians celebrates Christmas on the Gregorian calendar. However, against the background of the fact that in Ukraine a hidden and also often obvious persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy) takes place, most likely, the present Kiev regime in the long term wants to cancel the Eastern Orthodox calendar in general.

The secular authorities actively interferes in intra-church life, seeking to found a single Ukrainian State church, which categorically contradicts all orthodox canons. It’s possible that these ‘Kiev guys’ will try to forbid at the State level the UOC MP. I think that this will lead to nothing, because it is impossible to forbid the eternal. But, nevertheless, it seems to me that our Brothers in Christ will soon be experience serious persecution.”

“I want to note that, first of all, the Kiev authorities once again spat on the opinion of most Ukrainians,” said the director of the fund for historical research “Osnovanie” Aleksey Anpilogov. “Their interests simply aren’t taken into account in political games. This is shown even in the fact that it is proposed to celebrate Catholic Christmas due to the cancellation of the day off in May. In both Russia and Ukraine traditionally the May holidays were perceived as a spring holiday, where the Labor Day seeks to stretch itself up to May 9th [Victory Day – ed]. These are spring days, when some go to travel, and others — to kitchen gardens and for shish kebabs. And on December 25th most people are still occupied by various New Year’s Eve affairs.

The main motivation of those who introduced this day off is a third of the religious communities of Ukraine, which allegedly celebrates Catholic Christmas. However, proceeding from this same logic, it is possible to have Judaic Passover as a day off in Ukraine, or, because of ‘respect’ for the Crimean Tatars who allegedly live in Ukrainian Crimea and Kherson — Eid al-Adha. It is clear that in reality it isn’t about any care for Greek-Catholic or Catholics. The main thing that guides the initiators of such ideas is not only the aspiration to tear off Ukraine from Russia, but also, as paradoxical as it can sound, the aspiration to govern the country by the principle — divide and conquer. These same nationalists who constantly go on about united and indivisible Ukraine constantly invent something that once again splits the Ukrainian society along new borders. They divide people based on holidays, language, or religion. In this sense, a day off for Catholic Christmas will only anger all ‘non Catholics’ who see that the Kiev regime is going to turn all of Ukraine into one big Galicia. But Ukraine was and remains a kind of reduced version of the USSR – multinational, speaking two main languages, and also many others. Instead of people finding common points of interaction, they are told: Greek-Catholics have their holiday, and Orthodox Christians — theirs. As a result the Ukrainian State itself destroys the status quo that existed in society for quarter of a century. Instead of the former Soviet identity, a certain never existing all-Ukrainian identity is artificially imposed. As a result, the introduction of a new official holiday — Catholic Christmas — will bring to life not at all those processes that the Kiev ideologists count on.

“SP”: Which ones?

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“I recall that it is exactly the persecution of Orthodoxy that became the main reason for the revolt of Bogdan Khmelnytsky. And this as a result led to the fact that Poland over time lost influence over Eastern Ukraine, and then over the rest of it.

And today, when Kiev can’t deal with the conflict in Donbass in any way, it can additionally receive conflicts in the East of Ukraine, in the West, and in the Center. All of this will lead to the further corrosion of the mythical space under the name ‘united Ukraine'”.

“SP”: However there is the feeling that the Ukrainian people absolutely powerlessly accept the majority of decisions made by its government. Orthodox Christians didn’t react at all to the emergence of a new holiday in the calendar. Not to mention the adherents of the Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy), and even the Filaret’s supporters, who are in every possible way supported by the authorities, and who call themselves Orthodox Christians, also didn’t react in any way.

“The so-called ‘Kiev patriarchy’ never went against the authorities. Moreover, Filaret’s supporters always proclaimed such a ‘ecumenical doctrine’, from which one step remains before the adoption of the Roman rite. For them the main enemy is the Moscow Patriarchy. And Catholics and uniates are rather their allies. As for the adherents of Canonical Orthodoxy, they are extremely limited in their opportunities to protest in conditions when the SBU, with the help of nationalists, established a dictatorship in Ukraine. Radicals practically openly brag that the authorities granted them permission to catch those who will seem to be untrustworthy.

Nevertheless, I don’t fall into pessimism. How ever many attempts there are to separate Ukrainians from Russians, the phrase about the Russian longsuffering is quite applicable also to the inhabitants of ‘independent’ Ukraine. It is possible to remember that by the time of Bogdan Khmelnytsky’s revolt Ukraine suffered for more than 100 years due to the oppression of the Polish Szlachta. At some point all patience was exhausted. Something similar is possible also in the future. Placing Catholic Christmas in the category of orthodox holidays is just the next step towards the Russian longsuffering of Ukrainians ending.”

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