President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his Christmas Eve address on Dec. 24 that millions of Ukrainians had learned "another dimension of Christmas" as they once again celebrate this holiday in the time of a full-scale war against Ukraine.
"This Christmas has a different mood, different context, different taste," he said in a video address posted across social media platforms.
"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,” Zelensky said, standing in front of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, an ancient monastery at the heart of Ukraine’s capital.
Earlier this year, Ukraine’s Orthodox Church officially switched to the revised Julian calendar, which celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25, along with most Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The move aimed to better align with the civil Gregorian calendar and to distance itself from the Russian Orthodox Church, which still celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
“Our gifts, values, and traditions have changed. Today it's not so much about how we decorate our homes, but rather how we protect them and clean up the mess, sweeping the enemy out. We rejoice at seeing the first star in the evening sky and not seeing enemy missiles and Shahed (drones) in it,” said Zelensky.
He also said that the wishes of Ukrainian children have changed from “I wish for my dad to come home early from work” to “I wish for my dad to come back (from war).”
“For all the fathers, husbands, brothers, grandfathers to come back. Mothers, wives, sisters. To return victorious,” he said. “All of those who are marking the Christmas Eve in the trenches with weapons in their hands, facing the enemy. All our warriors of light. Guardian angels of Ukraine, who prove to us every day: the good will prevail, the light will prevail.”
The president said that the Ukrainians' common prayer will “unite millions of voices — more than ever before,” resonating together with Europe and the world.
“And this is a unique prayer. For the people, for peace, for justice, a prayer for life,” said the president. “It will be heard in different parts of the world, coming from the hearts of different people, in different languages. And from different denominations. Because this is a prayer for life, and it has no borders.”