Flour and water. That is the simple recipe of an Oplatki wafer. But if you were to just stir up those two ingredients and stick the dough in the oven, there probably aren’t too many people who would want to eat that. So what makes an Oplatki wafer special? There are some additional ingredients that truly make it what it is: tradition, family, and love.
Oplatki wafers are an age-old Polish Christmas tradition. They are thin wafers made of flour and water and often embossed with a nativity scene. Traditionally, right before the Christmas Eve meal, the eldest member of the family breaks the wafer and passes it to another family member with a blessing, which can be for good health, success, happiness -- or anything, really. As the wafer is passed around, each member of the family takes a piece and gives a blessing to the next person; everyone eats their piece together as a sign of the unity of the family. Additionally, pink wafers are given to animals in the home or on the farm.
The sharing of the Oplatki is truly a symbol of the love and care we all wish to spread during the Christmas season. The tradition’s resemblance to the Eucharistic meal is no coincidence; just as we share in Christ’s love when we celebrate the Eucharist, we share in the love of family with the breaking of the Oplatki wafer.
The tradition began with early Polish Christians, during a time when bread was difficult to come by. Sharing bread with family and friends was a sign of goodwill and a demonstration of compassion for others. During World War II, people mailed pieces of Oplatki to loved ones overseas, so that they could continue to share in the tradition, even when they were far apart. This beautiful tradition has continued and spread over many generations.
Oplatki Wafers are available in the Parish Office during Advent for a $5 donation.
~Claire McDermott, Weekend Office Staff