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Ukrainians Debating Whether To Celebrate Christmas On December 25

Ukrainians are debating a petition to celebrate Christmas on December 25, like Western Europe, rather than continuing to mark the holiday on January 7 according to Orthodox Christian tradition.

The debate reflects the tug of war between east and west over the nation's identify that has resulted from Ukraine's falling out with Russia since Moscow annexed Crimea and backed a separatist war in the east in 2014.

Activists in favor of making the official holiday December 25, which is currently an ordinary working day in Ukraine, have started two petitions on the presidential website.

If they garner enough support, President Petro Poroshenko will have to consider making the change, though the Ukrainian parliament would have the final say.

Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine's security council, says he backs the idea because it would align Ukraine with "the majority of civilized countries." He has suggested a transition period during which Ukrainians could celebrate Christmas on both dates.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS