Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas lexicon: opłatek

To-day's word is 'opłatek', plural opłatki. Opłatki are Christmas wafers. Some centuries ago, when Poland was large, larger in area than any European state, the custom began inside the family at the Christmas Eve table. It has crossed the ocean sea, and entered the streets of America.Some few years ago, the Cleveland diocese had many more parishes. One of those parishes that have been wrecked, and cast to the street, has maintained an integrity of community. Saint Casimir comes together as an unit of Jesus Christ, every week before noon Sunday. On the first day of 2012, on the warmest part of the day 50°F (10°C), the Casimiri broke opłatki. It was their third year to do so on East 82nd Street.
They battled the cellophane. One fellow had scissors, the plastic wrap had been roughly undone a second earlier. The wafers are oblong, and the size of an envelope. It is not unusual to find one mailed with a Christmas card. Eucharistic wafers are much smaller, and round, but of the same manufacture. They are usually embossed with an holy scene.
The wafers were snapped, shards and shrapnel fell to the pavement. If they fall, since they only simulate the True Eucharist, the birds can have them.
The joy of communal fellowship was fully manifest. Hugs, handshakes, and good wishes made a full round of the participants.
First they prayed, then they broke the opłatki, then they sang carols and koledy. A multi-fold sheet of bi-lingual lyrics they searched in the breeze for the next number.
The usual conclusion was singing national hymns. The last notes sung were, 'God Bless America'.

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