President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered a message of hope on Christmas Eve from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in Ukraine’s capital.
In a televised speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Today all Ukrainians are together. We all celebrate Christmas together. On the same date, as one big family, as one nation, as one united country. And today our common prayer will be stronger than ever.
The prayer of the people. And it will be heard together with Europe and the world.”
The speech comes on Christmas Eve in most Western countries, a date that Ukraine recently adopted.
In July this year, Zelensky signed a law moving the celebration to December 25, which many saw as an affront to Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. At the time, Zelensky said the country should “abandon the Russian legacy of imposing Christmas celebrations on January 7.”
Most Christian churches in the East use the Julian calendar, where Christmas falls on January 7, rather than the Gregorian calendar used in everyday life and by Western churches.
Elsewhere in Ukraine people celebrate Christmas as best they can.
In Odessa the cathedral was decorated with Christmas trees and a nativity scene, while in Lviv people take part in the Christmas Eve procession. Lviv residents highlight the traditional “didukh”, a wheat-based decoration that symbolizes sacrifice.