The Meaning of Oplatki (Christmas Wafers)
The celebration of Christmas by American families is enriched spiritually when time honored “old country” traditional customs are adopted. These practices serve to downplay the secular emphasis that has made of this holy time more of a “sell-ebration”. These customs reemphasize what this great celebration is all about – the proclamation of the “good news” for all humankind of our redemption.
An especially popular custom is the sharing of the “Oplatek” or Christmas wafer, also known as “Anielski Chleb” or Angel Bread.
For the people of Poland and other Western Slavonic nations the “Oplatek” has always had a mystical quality.
The “Oplatek” is much like the unleavened wheat hosts used at Mass. Different Christmas scenes are embossed in the baking process.
For Americans, the “Oplatek” represents a reverent tie to the customs of “the old country.” The observance that takes place on Christmas Eve becomes a sign of unity and solidarity with all members of the family, neighbors, and friends. Even absent members of the family receive an “Oplatek” by mail as a sign of their communion with their loved ones at home.