On May 24, the Synod of Bishops under the chairmanship of the head of the OCU, Metropolitan Epiphanius, approved the decision to switch to the New Julian calendar from September 1 of this year, but parishes still have the right to choose. The decision still needs to be approved by the local Council in July. This was reported in the press service of OCU.
"On May 24, 2023, the decision of the Council of Bishops of the local Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine approved a resolution on the calendar issue, in which the transition to the New Julian calendar is determined from September 1 of this year, keeping for parishes and monasteries that wish to do so, the right to use the old calendar," the message reads.
"The general use of the New Julian calendar, after the approval of this decision by the local Council convened on July 27, 2023, will be introduced from September 1 of this year, when the new church year begins. At the same time, parishes and monasteries that wish to follow the old calendar will have this opportunity - the calendar reform will take place without coercion, gradually and consciously," the OCU emphasized.
"This is a decision that the majority of the faithful of our Church and the majority of Ukrainian society are waiting for from us. This decision is not easy, we have been approaching it for a long time, gradually, step by step, and we are making it carefully. But it is as necessary as at one time, it was necessary to make a decision to introduce the living Ukrainian language in worship instead of the traditional Slavic one, to introduce an autocephalous system of Church life instead of centuries-old subordination. Not everyone accepted these decisions, not everyone supported them - but they were faithful and vitally necessary. Equally faithful and vital what is necessary for us is a decision to switch to an updated calendar, which is more accurate astronomically and ecclesiastically accepted, while preserving the traditional Easter," said Metropolitan Epiphanius, commenting on the Council's historic decision.
As noted, the issue of calendar reform has been discussed for a long time. And that this question arose with new force as a result of Russian aggression. "Currently, the Julian calendar is perceived as connected with Russian church culture. After all, the modern (New Julian) calendar is used by those Churches that support our Local Church, on the other hand, opponents and, first of all, the Russian Orthodox Church - adhere to the old (Julian) calendar. So the desire to preserve and the affirmation of our Ukrainian spiritual identity, protection from the aggression of the "Russian world", require us to make a timely decision - to join the majority of Local Orthodox Churches and introduce the New Julian calendar into use," the OCU noted.
According to a survey by the Rating group conducted last December, 44% of respondents support the idea of moving the celebration of Christmas from January 7 to December 25, compared to 26% in December 2021. 31% of respondents do not support the postponement of Christmas. In 2021, there were 58% of them. 23% indicated that they did not care, 2% could not answer this question.
At the same time, 55% of surveyed Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7, 25% do it twice - on December 25 and January 7, and only 11% currently celebrate Christmas on December 25.
Also, at the end of December, the voting results on this issue were summed up in the "Action" application. As noted in the Ministry of Statistics, more than 1.5 million Ukrainians took part in it. Almost 60% want to celebrate Christmas on December 25, almost 25.5% on January 7, and more than 12.5% on both dates.