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"We all celebrate together", says Zelenskyy in Christmas message

A boy walks at the cemetery after church Christmas service in Kryvorivnia village, Ukraine, on 24 Dec 2023
A boy walks at the cemetery after church Christmas service in Kryvorivnia village, Ukraine, on 24 Dec 2023 Copyright ASSOCIATED PRESS
Copyright ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Eloise Hardy with Agencies
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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered a message of hope on Christmas Eve from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in Ukraine's capital city.

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In a televised address, 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 people's prayer. And it will be heard together with Europe and the world."

The address comes on the eve of Christmas in most Western countries - a date that Ukraine has recently adopted. 

In July this year, Zelenskyy signed a law in July moving the celebration to 25 December, which many saw as a snub to Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. At the time, Zelenskyy said the country should "abandon the Russian heritage of imposing Christmas celebrations on 7 January."

Most Christian churches in the East use the Julian calendar, where Christmas falls on 7 January, rather than the Gregorian calendar used in everyday life and by Western churches.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, people are celebrating Christmas as best they can.

In Odesa, a cathedral was decorated with Christmas trees and a nativity scene, while in Lviv, people take part in a Christmas Eve procession. Lviv residents bring out traditional "didukh", a decoration made from wheat that symbolises sacrifice.

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