The Oplatki have an unassuming appearance and only the mildest flavor, looking more like a thick piece of paper.
This modest appearance, however, conceals a symbolically-rich custom.
The Christmas wafers come from Eastern Europe. The name means “Angel Bread.” Made only of flour and water, they are stamped with Christmas images such as the Star of Bethlehem or the Nativity.
On Christmas Eve, the head of the family prays for the members of his family, present or absent, then breaks a piece off the wafer and gives it to each person. As the family members receive the wafer pieces, they are greeted with a kiss and a felicitation for a joyful feast. They then return the greeting in the same way.
The lesson of this custom is that the family must be united with the bonds of charity. It reminds us that we do not seek salvation alone, but with others, especially our family. We should help each other obtain salvation, always bearing Christ-like charity toward one another. When we are united in charity, we are joined, by the head of the family, to the unbroken links of One Body, One Bread, One Christ, and One Church.
If you have family and friends who live far away or overseas, the Christmas wafer is an excellent way to reach out to them and let them know they are loved and missed and are still an integral part of the family or group. The oplatki wafers are so thin and surprisingly sturdy that they can be carefully mailed in a Christmas card without breaking.
Today, many also purchase oplatki wafers to share among a special group of friends, such as friends from church or the classroom. You can even send several oplatki wafers to your friends and family members so that they can enjoy the tradition with those who are special to them.
Do you want to renew and cultivate the bond of charity you have with your family? Incorporate the Oplatki Christmas Wafers tradition into your own family customs this year. The delicate sets of Angel Bread, colored white and pink, come in an envelope printed with the description of the Oplatki tradition. Order your Angel Bread today at The Catholic Company!