Wednesday, December 26, 2018


December 26, 2018 (Radio Lemberg) December 25 has been celebrated as Christmas Day by Christians for centuries. Ukrainians, predominantly adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy, still observe Christmas on January 7. But Ukraine has a new, unified, independent and national Orthodox church. “Red letter days” (church holidays) will be very slowly moving from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. For now there are two Christmases in Ukraine, both observed as statutory holidays: December 25 and January 7. The Orthodox church in Ukraine had been illegally annexed by Moscow since 1686. Late in 2018, Orthodox believers in Ukraine recovered their ancient church and chose a leader from among themselves. It is called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and it restores the canonical authority of Constantinople and Kyiv that goes back more than a millennium.

 The man elected as primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is Epifaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine. The completion of autocephaly – having a self-chosen head – will come on 6 January 2019 in Istanbul. That’s when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople, intends to give the tomos to the Ukrainian primate, Metropolitan Epifaniy. A tomos is a letter or book granting self-governing authority to a national church, in communion with the “first among equals” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine intends to switch to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, but do it very slowly. “We will do it calmly, wisely, and carefully, because our work needs to unite, not separate,” Metropolitan Epifaniy said in an interview with Radio Liberty on December 16.