Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 25.12.2017
For the first time, Ukraine has a holiday on December 25, Christmas Day. The statutory day-off was added this year as yet another sign of the strong European choice Ukrainians have made starting with the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14, and the true independence of Ukraine.
Traditional Orthodox Christmas will still be celebrated on January 7 in Ukraine. Saint Nicholas Day on December 19 by the Orthodox calendar is an observed but not a statutory holiday. Did Moroz (Father Frost) and Snihurochka (Snow Maiden) are making a cultural comeback in Ukraine. New Years is of course a big celebration, as it is all around the world. Add it all up, and Ukraine is a magical place in the darkest days of winter, for young and old alike.
Ukrainians are Europeans. Ukrainians are Westerners. Europe and the West observes Christmas Day as a secular holiday, and people are perfectly free to celebrate it as a religious holiday if they choose. Now Ukraine is where it belongs, right in the centre of this cultural space. A couple of years ago, Ukraine stopped glorifying a ‘victory over fascism’ and started to hold a remembrance day for those who sacrificed their lives in war. This is right and good, and symbolic of how Ukraine has put the dark years of the Russkiy Mir (the Russian World) behind it. The imposed symbols and holidays of Russian occupation are falling away, and genuine expressions of Ukrainian national character are asserting themselves.
The message of Christmas Day has transcended its origins in Christian faith. It is a message that Ukrainians especially need to hear and believe after almost four years of war, defending their homeland from Russian invaders. That message is this: Peace on Earth and goodwill to all people.
Merry Christmas! З Різдвом Христовим!