Eastern Slovakia
Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn Genealogical Research

Oplatki

The start of our Traditional Christmas eve meal was always Oplatki, or Bread of Love, a thin Communion-like wafer stamped with a Christmas scene and served with honey spread upon the wafer sheet.

The Oplatki is passed from person to person along with a wish and a kiss.

With this each of us offered a piece of the wafer to all others sitting at the table wishing the other a "Merry Christmas" and a "Happy New Year".

I guess the symbolism of sharing the wafer to everyone back and forth was to symbolize giving and sharing in our lives.

As I always understood it, the wafer, although the same as the Eucharist wafer in Mass, was not consecrated,and therefore not the body Christ, but rather just sharing and breaking of bread as in the last supper.

It is customary to have the Oplatki wafers blessed by the parish priest prior to Christmas Eve.

Oplatki is followed by Soup, in our meal also, but it is a mushrooms and potato soup, that is followed with Fish and potatoes.

The potatoes are cold, with onions in a vinegar and sugar solution. I was told my entire life by my parents that this meal was the same that my grandparents in Slovakia had each Christmas, plain and simple by todays standards, but a virtual feast for my poor ancestors.

The meal was made from what was available to them in the old country. After the main course, of course we had Kolachi, and coffee.

I was also told that the order in which the courses were served signified life, remember, honey on wafer, sour potatoes and fish, then pastries, sweet, sour, sweet.....that is the order of life.

We also had walnuts in a big bowl on the table, and with that my father would always throw a couple of them into the corners of the room, he was taught this was to insure good luck for the coming year by his father.

I had grown up in and attended a Slovak church, and the oplatki was always available to the parishoners at Christmas time.

It is nice to hear that this custom has been going on elsewhere in this country, and here I thought it was just us. I for one plan to keep the custom alive with my kids, and I'm sure they will with theirs.

This time of year especially, I always feel a tug at my heart, from the old country, and a wish to visit to walk on the soil of my ancestors.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and to all my friends on Slovak-World.

Jim and Chris Sagat

sawdust4@execpc.com

Read More About the Oplatki Tradition

It's All Relative is now accepting Oplatki Orders for Christmas 2012.

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Midi Arr. of Nebo i Zeml'a Copyright 1996, Randall Kopchak