Many Ukrainians are preparing to celebrate Christmas on 25 December for the first time.
The main Orthodox church has traditionally observed the holiday on 7 January, following the Julian calendar – which Russia also uses.
Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians. But in July this year, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a bill into law making 25 December the official Christmas holiday as the nation adopted the Western, Gregorian calendar.
The move, which has the backing of the church, marks another step by Kyiv towards eradicating all traces of Russian influence in the country as it continues to fight Moscow’s invasion.
The attack that began in February 2022 rallied the nation and sparked many Ukrainians to reject historical ties to Kyiv’s former ruler, including the Russian language and culture.
Ukraine also wants to join the European Union, and many citizens see membership as an important affirmation of what they believe is their country’s historical place in Europe.
Ukrainian MP and leader of the Golos Zmin Party, Kira Rudik, told Sky News that changing the date to 25 December was “incredibly important”, adding: “We are joining our European family in all aspects of our life including the day when we celebrate Christmas.
“It is critically important not only for people in their everyday life but it is [also] important in the level of culture, on the level of business when we will have the holidays at the same date.”
“Our kids, they would not even remember that at some point it was different, for them it will be normal. We want to make it the new normal for them, saying we are with our European family. We are celebrating like the whole democratic progressive world.”