Documentary photographer Czesław Siegieda recorded life in a Polish community in England from 1970 to the 1980s. One of the most beautiful and revered Polish Christmas traditions is the “breaking of the Opłatek” or “Opłatki”. The ‘Opłatki’ tradition originated in Poland during early Christian times. This custom began with a simple white wafer, baked from flour and water; the wafers display Christmas images, such as the Nativity.
Usually, the eldest member of the family will begin the ritual by breaking off a piece of the wafer and passing it to another family member with a blessing. This blessing can simply consist of what you desire for your loved one in the upcoming year – whether it be good health, success, or happiness. The purpose of this act is primarily to express one’s unconditional love and forgiveness for each member of the family.