Oplatki Christmas Tradition
Families of Polish, Slovak and Lithuanian background observe this Christmas Eve Tradition. Family members and guests each are handed an Oplatek and they each break off a piece from one another and eat it, expressing best wishes and blessings to each other, and asking for forgiveness.
The Oplatki are enjoyed by families, typically right before the Christmas Eve meal. The entire family will gather around the table with the Oplatek. 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 such as good health, success or happiness.
The significance of the Oplatki 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 Oplatki allows for one’s immediate family to come together express ones unconditional love and forgiveness for each member of his or her family.
In honor of animals that were present at Christ’s birth, family pets can also partake in this meal. The wafers are generally white in color, there are colored Oplatki made especially for pets (both colors are edible by people). This is also a great representation of the important role that pets play in our family today.
The Oplatki 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.