A decision by the parliament of Kiev. 30% of families celebrate Christmas as in the West. For the Orthodox Church under Moscow this is a move to marginalize the Church of the Russian "invaders". Fears the celebration will be swamped by consumerism. Gratitude among mixed Catholic and Orthodox families. The fruit of the "two lungs" of Christianity.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Ukrainian Parliament, the Rada, has included a new holiday in the National Labor Law: December 25, Christian Christmas according to Western tradition, which is added to the orthodox festival of January 7, for the Julian calendar. In exchange, May 2, the day after Labour Day, has been removed.
Parliament's decision has triggered many reactions, very critical from the orthodox world. Metropolitan Agafangel (Pahkovskij), head of a secessionist branch of Ukrainian orthodoxy, opposes the move saying he has "lost hope that Ukraine could one day become an Orthodox country." According to the prelate, this will unleash the propaganda of Western Christmas to make it become the main national religious festival, with the complicity of the orthodox Patriarchate of Kiev, who will demand that the Gregorian calendar bee accepted in keeping with their "masters in Istanbul" , that is, the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
According to representatives of the leading Ukrainian orthodox community, who are obedient to the Moscow Patriarchate, the Rada's decision does not correspond to the real orientation of the population. In this sense, the head of information of the pro-Russian Church, Archbishop Kliment of Irpensk expressed himself. Recalling that the January 7 Christmas is also traditionally observed by Russians, Georgians, Serbs, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and even the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church, Kliment emphasized that "Christ was born for us once, not twice ... with this decision Rada has shown that it does not take the opinion of the Ukrainians into account. According to all polls, the overwhelming majority of people celebrate January 7, or at least it was so until the election of these new deputies, and so it will be after them. “The Bishop spokesman explained the data that 80% of Ukrainians believe Christmas and Easter are the most significant celebrations in the calendar year, and the same percentage of citizens "does not trust these MPs; there is the impression that this is an attempt to transform Christmas from a religious event into a farce, to weaken people's trust in the Orthodox Church and thereby regain consensus.”
Indeed, for months harsh words have been exchanged between the orthodox obedient to Moscow, which represents half of all the country's orthodox, and the protagonists of Ukrainian politics, starting with President Petro Poroshenko, accused of harassing the Church of the Russian “invaders”. The controversy widened to relations with other confessions, especially the patriarchate of Kiev and the Greek-Catholics, accused of illegally throwing pro-Russian priests out of churches and expropriating them. The MPs justified their decision by recalling that, according to official data, about 30% of religious communities registered in the country celebrate Christmas on December 25, and they must be granted this right. For example, in the western region of Sub Carpathian Rus, December 25th has been a holiday for several years.
Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, head of the Roman Catholic episcopate in Ukraine, commented on the Rada decision expressing gratitude for a move which, in his view, was highly anticipated by believers of Latin tradition. "We reflected a great deal before submitting this request," said Msgr. Mokrzycki - "we discussed this at all levels. Christmas proclamation on December 25 is not just a gift to Latin Catholics: Protestants, many Greek-Catholics, and many Orthodox people join us in this celebration." Catholics of Latin and Byzantine rites have always celebrated Christmas twice, without creating any scandal, and "this is why we rejoice today, because Christmas can really bring together all the families, especially the many families of mixed traditions; so far, many Latin Catholics were forced to go to work on Christmas Day, and many parishes were forced to move the celebrations to the evening. Now we can experience a real holiday feeling throughout our homeland, throughout Ukraine, "concluded the bishop.
Even in Russia December 25, despite being a working day has become increasingly important in recent decades, if not for commercial reasons. The "Christmas" of December 25 is associated with New Year's Eve and the figure of Santa Claus (the "Grandfather of the Russian Fables"), while Christmas Day is celebrated on of January 7 followed by the weeks of "Carnival celebrations" complete with costumes and masks. Among the Eastern Slavs, in general, the contamination of Eastern and Western Christmas traditions expresses the "bivalent" nature of Christianity’s "two lungs", Eastern and Western, and the traditions of these lands.