KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's main Orthodox church said on Wednesday it had decided to switch to a calendar in which Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25, a move that distances it from Russia.
Ukrainian Christians, a majority of whom are Orthodox, have traditionally celebrated Christmas on Jan. 7 alongside other predominantly Orthodox Christian countries such as Russia, which invaded Ukraine last year.
"This question arose with new impetus as a result of Russian aggression," the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change away from the Julian calendar.
"Nowadays, the Julian calendar is perceived as connected with Russian church culture," it said.Ukraine's main Catholic church, which considers about one in 10 Ukrainians to be worshippers, announced a similar change in February.
The OCU said it would use the Revised Julian calendar from Sept. 1, the start of the liturgical year. It said parishes would have the option to celebrate according to the old Julian calendar if they wished.
A Ukrainian government poll last December showed 59% of the more than 1.5 million respondents supported moving Christmas celebrations to Dec. 25.
Ukraine's culture minister has previously expressed support for the switch in calendars, describing it as "appropriate to the demands of our time and public opinion."
(Reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)