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Many Sask. Ukrainians in support of celebrating Christmas on December 25

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Back in July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law officially moving the Christmas Day holiday to Dec. 25 as opposed to Jan. 7, when the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes it.

The decision is an effort to, “abandon the Russian heritage” which is stated in the note attached to the law that Zelensky introduced in July.

Christmas is a particularly sacred time for those in the Ukrainian community, and this year that time is 13 days earlier than in previous years.

“This year is special for us because it’s big change for our Ukrainian church and for all Ukrainian people. This year is special because we have a second year of war and people want to completely change life and be closer to home and spiritual life,” Father at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church Vitaliy Ihnativ said.

Originally, the Ukrainian Orthodox church operated on the Julian calendar, which differs from the more well-known Gregorian calendar that is used to determine statutory holidays in Canada.

With Saskatchewan having a well-established Ukrainian community, many are affected by this decision but this doesn’t appear to be interfering with their Christmas spirit.

“It doesn’t make a difference because Christmas is not really about dates it’s more about our God, Jesus Christ who was born on Earth. It’s more about rejoicing and finding some warmth during this Christmas season,” Nataliya Grishna, Parishioner of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

With the war in Ukraine continuing, many in the community have their home country on their minds and in their hearts.

“It left scars, the war left scars on our hearts but I really wish for everyone for Christmas day and for Christmas season to soothe those scars and to rejoice and jet hope,” Grishna said.

Ihnativ says regardless of when Ukrainians celebrate this year it will still be a special time.

“Christmas time is a special time, we should be feeling merciful of God for us and we have hope that in a short time, everything will be stopped and all people, families will be together again and we’ll have a live gathering together.”

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