Christmas Traditions:

The tradition of the oplatek originated in Poland during Early Christian times. This Christmas Custom began with a simple white wafer, baked from flour and water. The wafers are wonderfully designed to display Christmas images, such as the Nativity. The oplatek are enjoyed by families, typically right before the Christmas Eve meal. The entire family will gather around the table with the oplatek. Generally the eldest member of the family will begin the ritual by breaking off a piece of the wafer and passing it to another family member with a blessing. This blessing can simply consist of what you desire for your loved one in the upcoming year – whether it be good health, success, or happiness. The purpose of this act is primarily to express ones unconditional love and forgiveness for each member of his or her family.

The significance of the oplatek Christmas wafer is in that it shadows the Eucharistic meal that Catholics participate in at each Mass.  Just as we share in the Eucharist as one family in Christ and receive Christ’s love through the Eucharist, the oplatek allows for one’s immediate family to come together and share the love they have for one another. 

Although this tradition is primarily enjoyed by the human members of the family, even the family pets can partake in this meal.  Whereas the wafers are generally white in color, there are colored  Oplatek made especially for pets.  Although both colors are edible by people.  Traditionally, this corresponds to the animals that were present at Christ’s birth.  However, in current times, this can also represent the important role that pets play in the family.

The oplatek tradition is one that is easy and fun to introduce to the family at Christmas time. All it requires is a simple wafer paired with love and affection, and the willingness to share it. This is a heartwarming tradition that will complete your family’s time together during the Christmas season.