Adopt the Oplatek Tradition — For Laughs and Maybe a Tear

grandmother, older woman, laughing, talkingI wasn’t raised learning much about my heritage. My father is Irish, so we had corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. My mother was Polish, so we ate kielbasa and pierogies on the holidays. One year, an aunt brought us Oplatek bread and taught us this Polish custom. Then, typical of my family, we sort of took it and ran with it. It is technically supposed to be done on Christmas, but who has time with all the gift giving? I remember it providing all of us so many laughs and even a few tears. We haven’t done it in years, but I am reinstating this Easter. It has religious symbolism, but every religion has some association with bread, so I think it works for any holiday. Try it for Passover, Easter or on a Tuesday when you think everyone needs to remember why they mother, daughter, whispering, talking, laughinglove each other.

Take any bread, but wafer bread works best because it isn’t meant to be filling.
Give every person a full piece.
Now, everyone stands. Yes, you actually have to move around.
Go to the person closest to you.
You take a little piece of theirs.
They take a little piece of yours.
You say something nice to them, i.e. what you like about them, what they mean to you, why you are grateful for them, etc. This is whispered, meant only for each other’s ears.
They say something nice to you — hopefully.
You both eat the bread.
Then, you move on until everyone has had a moment with everyone else.

father, son, hugging, talking, laughingYou may not be surprised at some of the silence because it is, admittedly, awkward and forced. I guarantee you will be surprised at some of the beautiful, thoughtful things you will say and hear — even to and from your mother-in-law. In this age of technology, when poorly written text is replacing conversation, even your teens will appreciate the beauty of a kind word.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


Sign up for our email newsletter