We have customers coming in who aren’t of Polish decent asking about this beautiful tradition. Of course you can adopt it in your family even if you aren’t Polish!
The following is an article from The Polish American Journal with a thorough description of how to celebrate with Oplatek:
One of the most beautiful and most revered Polish customs is the “breaking of the oplatek.” The use of the Christmas wafer (oplatek) is practiced not only by native Poles in Poland, but by people all over the world whose ancestors came from Poland.
The “oplatek” is a thin wafer, made of flour and water. For table use, it is white. In Poland, colored wafers are used to make Christmas tree decorations. Formerly, these were baked by organists or by religious and were distributed from house to house in the parish during Advent. Today, they are produced commercially and sold in religious stores and houses.
On Christmas eve, the whole family gathers and waits impatiently for the appearance of the first star. With its first gleam, they all approach a table covered with hay and a snow-white table cloth. A vacant chair and a place setting is reserved for the unexpected guest, always provided for in hospitable Polish American homes.
The father or eldest member of the family reaches for the wafer, breaks it in half and gives one half to the mother. Then each of them breaks a small part of each other’s piece and, after a warm kiss, they wish each other long life, good health, joy and happiness, not only for the holiday season, but for the coming year and for many years to come.
Now the same ceremony is repeated between father and their children, as well as among the children, then, with the relatives and even strangers, if they happen to be present. The ceremony over, they all sit down to a tasteful, though meatless supper, after which they sing kolendy (Christmas carols and pastorals) until the time for Midnight Mass, also know as “Pasterka.”
Sometimes, the oplatek is sent, in a greeting card, to loved ones away from home.
An ancient, Polish tradition, these wafers are shared at the Christmas Eve table in memory of ancestors, departed loved ones and for the Unseen Guest, Jesus Christ. There is high hope that the “Unexpected Guest” will come and bless the gathering. What a beautiful way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas! We have plenty on stock. $1.50 for a single wafer packet and $3.00 for three (two white and one pink).
This item is not available in our online store, however, for your convenience, you can call the store and arrange payment. We are happy to mail your order to you.
We hope you and yours will be celebrating a merry Catholic Christmas this year! To help you enter fully into the season, Father William P. Saunders will be in the shop to meet our guests and sign copies of his latest book, Celebrating a Merry Catholic Christmas: A Guide to the Customs and Feast Days of Advent and Christmas. The book signing will take place on Saturday, December 1st between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Just published, Celebrating a Merry Catholic Christmas is a treasure, one that offers its riches year after year. It is a valuable resource for understanding and celebrating Advent and Christmas as a Catholic. But, more than providing the historical roots of traditions, such as the Advent wreath and Christmas tree, it also features spiritual reflections and suggestions for practices to enrich your family’s Christmas preparation and celebration.
You’ll find all of the major Feast Days of Advent and Christmas along with devotions and traditions that will help your family get more out of these important seasons.
Father Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Potomac Falls, Virginia. He is author of the two volume set, Straight Answers which raises and answers many questions about the Catholic faith. Father Saunders also authors the website, Catholic Straight Answers.
We will also be serving refreshments all day for our annual holiday open house. Stop by to purchase your copy of Father’s newest book, have it signed by him, chat with him and enjoy some punch and cookies!
Beautiful Christmas cards, advent supplies, 2019 annual publications are now in.
We are increasing our stock every week!
Happy Easter Season from The Paschal Lamb!
…and hopeful that Spring will arrive soon!
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. – James 5:7-8 NABRE