UGCC and OCU switch to new church calendar: what changes will affect Ukrainians
On September 1, 2023, a new stage in the spiritual life of Ukraine began with the introduction of the New Julian Church Calendar. From now on, most major church holidays will change their dates, including Christmas. Find out why the calendar is being changed and what consequences Ukrainians should expect
On September 1, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) switched to a new calendar of holidays - the New Julian calendar. This calendar contains a different system for calculating the date of Easter and other Christian holidays, which differs from the Julian system used in Ukraine until now.
The most obvious change is the transfer of Christmas to December 25, which was previously celebrated on January 7. This change is only a technical detail in church life, but it has a significant impact on the rhythm and calendar of events related to religious holidays.
Here are the key aspects and consequences of the change in the church calendar in Ukraine.
New dates of holidays in Ukraine according to the New Julian calendar: details
The newly adopted calendar is more accurate, and this also applies to the dates of religious holidays.
"If you open the old church calendar, you will see that some numbers correspond to the new calendar. For example, Christmas is celebrated not on January 7, but on December 25 in all church calendars. This date was constantly changing, and eventually one more day had to be added," explains Archbishop Vitaliy.
The new Julian calendar "pushes back" all dates by 13 days. This means that the dates of important church holidays will now be as follows:
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - September 8 (instead of September 21);
Exaltation of the Holy Cross - September 14 (instead of September 27);
The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary - October 1 (according to the old calendar - October 14);
Introduction of the Blessed Virgin Mary - November 21 (December 4);
St. Andrew's Day - November 30 (December 13);
St. Nicholas Day - December 6 (December 19);
Christmas - December 25 (January 7);
Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary - December 26 (January 8);
St. Melania's Day - December 31 (January 13);
St. Basil the Great - January 1 (January 14);
Epiphany - January 6 (January 19);
Ascension of the Lord - February 2 (February 15);
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - March 25 (April 7);
Kupala Night - June 24 (July 7);
Saints Peter and Paul - June 29 (July 12);
The Day of the Prophet Elijah - July 20 (August 2);
Maccabiah, Honey Savior - August 1 (August 14);
Apple Savior - August 6 (August 19);
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - August 15 (August 28);
Beheading of St. John the Baptist - August 29 (September 11);
The Christmas fast ends before the New Year: November 15 - December 24.
After the transition to the new calendar, the Holy Resurrection, Ascension, and Trinity will be celebrated on different days in Ukrainian and Roman Catholicism.
In addition, the dates of holidays that fall on the same day as religious holidays will automatically change:
Christmas - December 25;
Statehood Day, the Day of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus - July 15 (the Day of Remembrance of Grand Duke Volodymyr);
Day of the Defender of Ukraine - October 1 (Intercession of the Holy Virgin);
Day of the Ukrainian Language and Writing - October 27 (St. Nestor the Chronicler's Day); and
Adoption Day - September 17 (the day of memory of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Martyrs Vera, Hope, and Love and their mother Sophia).
Conditions under which the transition to the New Julian calendar will be carried out:
- The transition will not be imposed on all parishes;
- If parishes wish to hold services according to the "old" calendar, they are free to do so;
- parishes are obliged to notify their bishops of their decision;
- The OCU will keep statistics on who holds services according to which calendar.
New Julian calendar: how it differs from others
There are three church calendars in the world: Julian, Gregorian, and New Julian. The first was the Julian calendar, which originated in Ukraine in 988, when Volodymyr the Great baptized the Russian state. Later, in 1918, it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar.
The difference between these calendars is 13 days, so such concepts as new and old styles for certain dates were born during this period.
The new Julian calendar was developed in 1923 by Serbian astronomer Milutin Milankovic. As Archbishop Vitaly Klos explained, the calendar is primarily about the accuracy of time measurement.
Using the Julian calendar, it would be necessary to add one day every 128 years, and the Gregorian calendar - every 3,323 years.
This discrepancy arises precisely because of the difference in the number of days. However, the new New Julian calendar can occur every 43,500 years, which greatly simplifies the chronology.
How do Ukrainians react to the changes?
According to the survey, 46% of Ukrainians fully support the transition to the new calendar, 11% do not support it at all, and 17% are indifferent.
At the same time, there was resistance to moving Christmas from January 7 to December 25. 25% of respondents agreed to such a change, while 19% were strongly against it.
"The psyche always resists change. The brain's deep perception of reality wants stability. That's why people cling to any stability," explains psychotherapist Bohdana Yankiv. The expert says that some resistance to social change is normal.
Cultural scholar Yevhen Savisko believes that the issue of switching to the New Julian calendar is not just a church issue, but a church-political issue. According to Savisko, the consequences for Ukraine are still unclear.
However, Archbishop Vitaliy Klos and psychotherapist Bohdana Yankiv agree that the spirit of the holiday will not be lost by changing the date.
Ukrainians will be able to celebrate major holidays in a warm family atmosphere, regardless of whether they are on the new Julian or Gregorian calendar.
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