Ukrainian Statehood Day Date in the current year: July 15, 2024

Ukrainian Statehood Day Ukrainian Statehood Day is a public holiday celebrated in Ukraine every July 15. Its date was chosen to commemorate the baptism of Kyivan Rus’ by Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great.

The Christianization of Kyivan Rus’ was a gradual process that occurred in several stages. According to Church tradition, Christianity was first brought to what is now Ukraine by Andrew the Apostle, referred to in the Orthodox tradition as Andrew the First-Called.

The first ruler of Kyivan Rus’ to convert to Christianity was Grand Princess Olga, who reigned from 945 to 960 acting as regent for her son Sviatoslav. She was baptized during her visit to Constantinople in the 950s, but her son refused to convert. Nevertheless, the Eastern Orthodox Church has recognized her as a saint due to her efforts to Christianize Kyivan Rus’.

It was Olga’s grandson Volodymyr who converted the entire nation of Christianity. Volodymyr the Great, also known as Volodymyr the Fair Sun and Saint Volodymyr, studied the religions of various neighboring nations before settling on Eastern Christianity. He was baptized in Chersonesus in 988, returned to Kyiv and baptized the city’s residents in the Dnipro river. This mass baptism is referred to as the baptism of Kyivan Rus’ although it was just the beginning of the state’s Christianization.

The history of Ukraine Statehood Day dates back to 2008, when President Viktor Yushchenko declared July 28 the Day of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’ — Ukraine during the celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus’. Since the exact date of the baptism is unknown, the date July 28 was chosen because it is the feast day of Saint Volodymyr.

For over a decade, the Day of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’ — Ukraine was an official observance, but it didn’t have the public holiday status. It changed in 2021, when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ukrainian independence that July 28 would become a public holiday named Ukrainian Statehood Day.

According to the Presidential Decree “On Ukrainian Statehood Day”, the main goal of the holiday is to the establish the continuity of the more than a thousand years old history of Ukraine’s statehood, which dates back to the founding of Kyiv and the reign of Prince Volodymyr the Great.

By baptizing Kyiv in 988, he laid the foundation of Ukrainian statehood that was carried on by the successor states of Kyivan Rus’, including the Principality of Galicia—Volhynia, also known as the Kingdom of Ruthenia, the Cossack Hetmanate, the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Ukrainian State (Second Hetmanate), Carpatho-Ukraine, and modern Ukraine.

A bill regarding the establishment of Ukrainian Statehood Day was introduced to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) on August 25, 2021 and approved on May 31, 2022. Ukrainian Statehood Day was officially established during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when Ukraine was fighting to preserve its statehood and territorial integrity and to leave the centuries of being thought of as Russia’s “little sister” behind.

It was expected that, among other things, the new public holiday would help to promote the continuity of Ukrainian statehood, protect Ukraine’s national interests, preserve historical justice, and counter fake narratives about certain historical aspects of Ukrainian statehood spread by Russian propaganda.

In 2023, the holiday was moved to July 15 since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine switched to the Revised Julian calendar.

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Ukrainian Statehood Day, public holidays, national holidays, holidays in Ukraine, baptism of Kyivan Rus', Volodymyr the Great