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8 Aug, 2023 22:01

‘American’ holiday proposed in Ukraine

The bill to establish Thanksgiving comes after Kiev changed the date of Christmas
‘American’ holiday proposed in Ukraine

A member of President Vladimir Zelensky’s party has introduced a bill that would establish Thanksgiving as a public holiday in Ukraine, in line with “highly developed countries” he did not name.

Bill 9574, introduced in the Verkhovna Rada on Monday, would designate October 22 as a national holiday, in order to “raise gratitude to a national level (as it is done in some highly developed countries), when each person will have an official opportunity to give thanks to all those whom he wishes to do so.”

The date was chosen because it falls during the “the autumn season, rich in the harvest of fruit and vegetables” that will “contribute to the introduction of the tradition of celebrating this holiday at the family table,” according to the proposal.

While the MP who introduced the bill, Georgy Mazurashu, did not name the “highly developed countries,” only the US celebrates Thanksgiving as a public holiday. A handful of countries where a similar holiday is observed by some communities – Brazil, the Philippines, Liberia – have copied it from the Americans, with the exception of Canada, which has its own version.

While the American holiday is best known around the world, due to its depictions in films and popular culture, the date of Mazurashu’s holiday is closer to the Canadian Thanksgiving, which most provinces observe on the second Monday of October. 

Both the US and Canada are major sponsors of the current government in Kiev, and Canada is home to a substantial Ukrainian diaspora that fled to the West after the defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies in WW2.

The Thanksgiving proposal comes just a week after Ukraine officially rescheduled the celebrations of Christmas, from January 7 to December 25, citing the need to “reject Russian traditions and fortify national unity in Ukraine.” Most Orthodox Christian churches follow the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants by 13 days. 

Mazurashu is a former athlete and sports journalist who has represented the southwestern province of Chernovtsy – on the border with Romania and Moldova – since 2019. Prior to this, he was mostly known for co-sponsoring the controversial Bill 7351 in May 2022. The draft law, never adopted, proposed allowing military commanders to summarily execute soldiers for insubordination.