SACRAMENTO — A new law signed by Ukraine's president marks a major shift away from the Russian Orthodox Church as war rages in Ukraine this holiday season.
Father Miroslav Turchak leads services at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Sacramento. A military chaplain from war-torn Donetsk looks forward to the changes that lie ahead.
“We are part of American society and we like to celebrate Christmas with the rest of us [of the] Christian churches here in the United States,” Father Turczak said through an interpreter.
This summer, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law moving the traditional Christmas holiday from January 7 to December 25. Ukrainian churches around the world now celebrate Christmas in December.
It's a move embraced by Svetlana Iutko of Fair Oaks.
“Now because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, people do not want to follow this Soviet tradition and will not celebrate Christmas on January 7,” Iutko said.
Iutko and her family left Ukraine just before the outbreak of war. She considers herself lucky.
This holiday season, she has little reminders on her Christmas tree about the current situation in her home country.
Meanwhile, for Ukrainian refugees still arriving in the Sacramento area, churches have become their second home.
“Everyone who comes to a new country always tries to find something familiar, and the most familiar thing for us is our church,” Father Turczak said.
As the conflict in Ukraine reaches its second year, this Christmas holiday, Ukrainians are praying that victory will come soon.
The local Ukrainian community plans to march at the California State Capitol on Sunday to bring more awareness of the conflict in Ukraine and the need for more support. The public is welcome to attend.
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