Saint Patricks Logo
Saint Patricks Logo

Opłatki Blessing at St Patrick’s

6 January 2017

oplatki blessing 1

The breaking of the Christmas wafer or opłatki, (pronounced op-wat-kee) is an ancient Polish custom which was first practised a thousand years ago. On the 18th December, St Patrick’s hosted a gathering of the Polish members of the community who brought their Christmas wafers to the church to be blessed.

oplatki blessing 2

Polish families share the opłatki, which are rectangular wafers of unleavened bread, similar in taste and texture to the communion wafer, in a ceremony like the agápai of the early Christians, during dinner on Christmas Eve. The eldest member of the family breaks off a corner of the wafer, and then passes the remainder to their neighbour at the table with a blessing which might include good wishes for the coming year, and a request for forgiveness for past acts, and an offer of forgiveness for injuries suffered. The wafer is passed around the table until it is consumed, and each person passes it on to the next with a blessing. The intention is to express unconditional love, family unity and reconciliation.

The wafers may also be blessed in church, often to be sent to members of the family who are abroad.

Deacon Denis gave the traditional blessing in Polish, through the help of Polish parishioners who taught him the correct pronunciation. The blessing rendered into English is:

“Bless us and these opłatki, which we will share with others, passing on our Christmas wishes. Fill our hearts with kindness, love and peace, so that we may confirm our words with our daily actions. Help us to be good to each other and to one day meet in celebration in your kingdom. Through Christ our Lord, Amen”

Opłatki can be found for sale in many Polish shops, and this little domestic service of reconciliation, forgiveness and unity is a wonderful way of starting the Christmas festivities at home.