Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oplatek/Oplatki/Christmas Wafer

For as long as I can remember, my family has honored our Czechoslovakian roots by keeping certain traditions alive. For example, at our wedding, my Babbi sang a traditional Czech wedding song called Redovy (A.K.A. The Bridal Money Dance) while I wore the traditional apron and bonnet, although honestly I did not wear the bonnet because my hair was too nice to mess with. Another tradition that my family has maintained as long as I can remember occurs every Christmas. Every year, we begin our Christmas meal with a prayer and some traditional Christmas wafers called Oplatki topped with honey and walnuts, followed by some sauerkraut and mushroom soup (which is disgusting to most but has grown on me over the years). Although my Babbi is the main reason we have these traditions, now that she is gone it is our duty to keep them going. Although I do not think I will continue the sauerkraut and mushroom soup tradition (especially since Nick does not like sauerkraut at all, it is an acquired taste), I will forever continue to have Oplatki at our Christmas dinners. Oplatki is not something you can pick up in a local grocery store and so my mother or her sisters (depending on who is hosting Christmas that year) special orders it. This year since we were not home, my mother sent us some Oplatki along with our gifts so that we were able to enjoy this tradition in Indiana.

According to The Catholic Company, "The tradition of the Oplatki 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 Oplatki 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 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 and share the love they have for one another."

1 comment:

  1. Christmas traditions are the best. I'm sure your Babbi is thankful that you are continuing to honor them!