Breaking a traditional Christmas Eve wafer with Poles? Here’s how to give them good wishes

Wigilia opłatek
“Mam nadzieję, że umyłeś ręce”


igilia (from the Latin “vigil”), or Christmas Eve, is arguably the most important day of the Polish Christmas season or at least the most important supper. There are 12(!) courses, usually featuring the classic Christmas carp, red barszcz with uszka, and much more – plus traditionally an empty plate in case there is an unexpected Christmas guest.

Before dinner, though, Poles partake in another unique tradition involving the Christmas wafer (opłatek). Usually, guests each take a very thin wafer (similar to those for Catholic communion, but not consecrated) with a religious image stamped onto it. Then they rotate around the room and eat small pieces of each other’s wafers while giving a wish for the new year. They may be personal or generic; heartfelt or funny, depending on the people’s character and relationship.

If you’re a foreigner in Poland and you happen to find yourself as an unexpected guest in a Polish home on Christmas but without a firm grasp on the Polish language, this can be a stressful ceremony. Luckily, we have compiled a list of nice things you can say while sharing opłatki with your boyfriend’s great-aunt:


  • “Merry Christmas/Happy holidays” – Wesołych Świąt [ve-SO-wih SHVEE-at]
  • “Lots of health” – Dużo zdrowia
  • “Lots of love” – Dużo miłości [mi-WOSH-chi]
  • “Lots of success” – Dużo sukcesów


  • “All the best” – Wszystkiego najlepszego
  • “All kind of prosperity” – Wszelkiej pomyślności
  • “Be fulfilled with your family” – Zadowolenia z rodziny
  • “Make your dreams come true” – Spełnienia marzeń


  • “Anything you wish for” – Wszystkiego czego sobie życzysz
  • “A lot of health, happiness, prosperity, and love in the upcoming New Year” – Dużo zdrowia, szczęścia, pomyślności oraz miłości w nadchodzącym Nowym Roku
  • “Family warmth, comfort and joy, let us all meet again next year” – Rodzinnego ciepła, otuchy i radości, abyśmy za rok spotkali się znów wszyscy razem
  • “Accept the wishes of many favors of God, happiness, good luck, and that it will be better year to year” – Przyjmij życzenia wielu łask bożych, szczęścia, powodzenia, i z roku na rok lepiej było

Extreme (rhyming)

When the time of Christmas Eve comes
and you take the wafer,
Though I will be somewhere in the distance
My heart will always be with you.
When you break this wafer,
Remember me till the end.
I wish you off with all the best
and happy Christmas wishes.

Gdy nadejdzie czas Wigilii
i opłatek weźmiesz w ręce,
choć ja będę gdzieś w oddali
z Tobą zawsze moje serce.
Gdy przełamiesz ten opłatek,
o mnie wspomnij na ostatek.
Ja życzenia ślę Ci stąd
i wesołych życzę Świąt.

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