CHISINAU -- Moldova's pro-Western government is making December 25 an official holiday in a country traditionally celebrating Christmas in early January.
The decision to make "Western-style" Christmas a holiday was passed on December19 by a majority of legislators from the ruling coalition but was criticized by the pro-Russian opposition Communists and by a powerful Orthodox church faction affiliated with Moscow.
The bill was filed by Liberal deputy Valeriu Munteanu, who said that a growing number of Moldovans preferred to celebrate Christmas according to the Western calendar.
Moldova's western neighbor, Romania, although a mainly Christian Orthodox country, celebrates Christmas in December according to the Gregorian calendar.
Orthodox churches in most other Eastern European countries, including Russia, celebrate Christmas on January 7 according to the old Julian calendar.
January 7 will remain an official holiday in Moldova.