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Opłatek (plural : opłatki)(lithuanian:paplotėlis) is an Eastern European Christmas tradition celebrated in Polish, Slovak and Lithuanian families during Wigilia (Christmas Eve Vigil). Family members and friends break off a small piece of the large, thin, rectangular opłatek wafer and give it to one another along with a blessing. The unleavened wafers are baked from pure wheat flour and water and often embossed with religious images.

A sample blessing can take the form of "I wish you much health, happiness and the Lord's bountiful blessings as well as the fulfillment of all your plans and everything you wish for yourself." or just wishing good grades to a child and good health to your parents. Despite its simplicity, the custom has made its way into countless households which find its rich symbolism an adaptable annual custom of profound meaning.

The tradition traces its origins to the times of early Christianity and sharing of consecrated bread (Host). As a Christmas custom, “opłatek” originated in Poland and was widely spread as far back as the 17th century. It was the part of szlachta's (Polish nobility) culture and the custom has spread throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and neighboring countries. In the 19th century in the aftermath of the partitions of Poland it gained patriotic subtexts as the common wish during sharing of “opłatek” became the wish for Poland's regaining its independence. Since that time “opłatek's” are often embossed with religious images. In the 20th century “opłatek” custom went beyond families and gained another meaning: the meeting of present or past coworkers or students.


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Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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