Family Day in Ukraine Date in the current year: May 15, 2024

Family Day in Ukraine Ukrainians observe Family Day on May 15 every year. Originally celebrated in July, the holiday was established by President Viktor Yanukovych in 2011 and was moved to its current date by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2023.

In December 2011, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych designated July 8 as Family Day. This date was chosen to coincide with the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity in Russia, which, in turn, coincides with the Orthodox feast day of Saint Peter and Fevronia, the patrons of marriage, family, love, and fidelity.

In Russia, Saint Peter and Fevronia Day was first celebrated as the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity in 2008. The celebration was organized by the Social and Cultural Initiatives Foundation, presided over by the then First Lady of Russia Svetlana Medvedeva, as an alternative to Valentine’s Day. Three years later, Yanukovych decided to adopt the holiday in Ukraine as part of his pro-Russian policy.

However, the July 8 celebration of Family Day was never really accepted by Ukrainian society. In 2014, Yanukovych was overthrown during the Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution. His successor, Petro Poroshenko, never got around to choosing a new date for Family Day or abolishing the holiday altogether due to far more urgent matters at hand. The holiday continued to exist on paper but was hardly celebrated.

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the issue of getting rid of all traces of Russian influence and legacy became much more pressing. In July 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree changing the dates of several Ukrainian holidays:

  • Ukrainian Writing and Language Day: from November 9 to October 27
  • Ukrainian Cossacks Day and the Day of the Defenders of Ukraine: from October 14 to October 1
  • Day of the Baptism of Rus’ and Ukrainian Statehood Day: from July 28 to July 15
  • Adoption Day: from September 30 to September 17
  • Family Day: from July 8 to May 15

Most of these date changes were due to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine adopting the Revised Julian calendar; despite being secular, these holidays coincide with religious feasts such as the feast day of Saint Nestor the Chronicler, the Intercession of the Theotokos, and the feast day of Saint Sophia and her daughters, Saints Faith, Hope, and Charity.

However, the date of Family Day was moved to May 15 in order to coincide with the International Day of Families, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. Ukraine celebrated its Family Day on the same day as the international community for the first time on May 15, 2024.

Interestingly, in addition to changing the date of the holiday, President Zelenskyy also changed its name. In Ukrainian, there are two words for family: sim’ya and rodyna. The former primarily refers to the immediate family making up a household (most often a nuclear family but not necessarily), while the latter means extended family. The name of Family Day was changed from Den’ Rodyny to Den’ Sim’yi to emphasize the importance of the immediate family in people’s lives.

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