My Wigilia Wishes To You

opłatekOn this Wigilia, I would like to share an opłatek with all of my readers and social media followers. For those who may not know, breaking the opłatek  wafer at Christmas Eve is an age-old Polish tradition occurring right before supper. First, the father breaks the opłatek in half with the mother. Both wish each other health, joy, or whatever  else they might desire before eating it. Afterward, the rest of the family follows suit in a ceremony of hope and love. They even make colored opłatek for animals!

This is a day to not only reflect on the previous year, but anticipate the next one.  I have written about various Wigilia superstitions, and most of them involve setting the standard for the upcoming year—from avoiding arguments, to keeping a clean house, to behaving courteously and hospitably. You may or may not buy into these superstitions, but you have to admit that they certainly encourage you to act in accordance with the Christmas spirit (and it would be great if we could act like that all year).

I’m especially thankful for your continued interest and engagement with my blog. Nearly 4,000 Facebook followers and often thousands of website views per day is humbling, yet inspiring. I am continually motivated to bringing you a host of educational content about Poland and Polish culture, as well as some crazy humor.  I’ve never specialized in one theme about Poland, and I never will. I love all aspects of Poland, and I hope that passion comes through in my writings, photos, and videos.

Now, without further adieu, here are my Wigilia wishes for you:

Health: This is always what I wish everyone first. Without it, no other wishes matter. Indeed, nothing else matters. So, may God heal you of any ailments and keep you safe from disease and accidents in the coming year.

Happiness: I don’t know all of you, so I can’t get specific as to what will make you happy. While some of you might want a private yacht, others would be happy with kołaczki right about now. So think of something that makes you happy, and that is what I wish you (as long as it’s nothing bad, of course).

Unity: A major goal of my blog is to bring Polish people together from around the world to learn about the culture and traditions of that great nation and share their stories. The Polish diaspora is among the largest in the world. Poles are in every country. So on this Wigilia, remember who you are, no matter where you are. And if you’re not Polish, we’re happy to adopt you 🙂

Wesołych i Radosnych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia

 

Wesołych Swiat

I’m Sharing Opłatek With All of You

Whether you’re only a little bit Polish or have pierogi running through your veins, one of the most beloved and sacred Polish traditions is the breaking of the opłatek on Christmas Eve, or Wigilia. Practiced for centuries, it represents all the good of Christmas—faith, family and friendship.

opłatek

An opłatek is basically the same bread wafer you have at church, except it’s unconsecrated.  Experts believe that the practice of sharing opłatek evolved from an earlier practice in which Poles shared podpłomyk, or thin, flat bread made on fire-heated stones. This meal was common in ancient Slavic societies before Christianity. The opłatek wafer was developed later by the Benedictines of Cluny in Burgundy, France and spread throughout Europe, reaching Poland.

Eventually, the practice of sharing the opłatek on Christmas Eve became commonplace and is today practiced within Polish families around the world. Family members, typically starting with the husband and wife, wish each other health, happiness and good fortune. The person receiving the wishes breaks off a piece of opłatek from the person offering them and eats it. Some families do it the opposite way. No matter how they do it, though, the meaning remains the same. It’s a custom that unites the entire family, from the youngest toddler, to the oldest patriarch, in a symbolic display of love and Christmas spirit.

Since it’s Christmas Eve today, or Wigilia, I want to symbolically share an opłatek with every person reading this. I wish all of you the best of health in the coming year, as nothing is more important. I wish you success in all of your endeavors, be they acquiring a new job, finishing school, finding that special someone, or comfortably retiring. Finally, I wish that all of you find a little bit of happiness every day of your lives. Reflect upon and be appreciative of everything God has given you, and you will never have a sad moment.

Wesołych Swiąt