Polish Christmas
Wigilia Supper Ceremony

Wigilia Table with Oplatek & Jesus on Bed of Polish Hay (C) AHGunkel 2001

After sunset, the youngest family member is sent to watch for the first star of Christmas Eve. Having sighted it, the child announces that the star has appeared. Then, the candles are lit. The head of the household continues,

HOST: Niech bedzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus! ("May the name of God be praised" is the most traditional Polish greeting.)

ALL: Na wieki wieków, Amen. (Na vee-ay-kee vee-ay-koof. Ah-men.) ("For ever and ever Amen.")

HOST: W imie Ojca i Syna i Ducha Swietego. On this year's shortest of days and longest of nights, a star appears shining in the darkness. "A Slowo cialem sie stalo, i mieszkalo miedzy nami." For on this night, "the Word was made flesh..."


HOST: "Bóg sie rodzi -- God is born," proclaims the majestic Christmas carol. Jesus, Son of God, is born of Mary. For this night, "the Word was made flesh..."

ALL: AND DWELT AMONG US!" HOST: The star has appeared announcing His birth. The star of Bethlehem guides the Three Wise men in their search for the new-born King. For this night, "the Word was made flesh..."

ALL: AND DWELT AMONG US!" HOST: This night a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. His name is wonderful, Counselor, eternal Father, Prince of peace. "The Word was made flesh..."

ALL: AND DWELT AMONG US!" HOST: Throughout the ages on this eve, as the first star appeared, our ancestors throughout the world celebrated with joy this Wigilia as we do today. "For the Word was made flesh..."


HOST: Our forefathers celebrated this evening with the breaking of the bread, the Christmas Oplatek. Following their example we share in this sacred heritage. In the breaking of this bread and sharing of this meal, Jesus is born for us this evening, around this table, under our roof, in our hearts. Let us now listen to the story of his birth as recounted by St. Luke: [READER presents the Gospel of Midnight Mass]

HOST: At this feast, we share the joy of heaven. We rejoice with the Holy Family of Bethlehem. Having sighted the first star, we gather at this table to hear glad tidings of comfort and joy. Summoned to the festival we break bread and share the holy wafer. The breaking of this bread brings with is a promise of reconciliation and peace. As we share it with each other, we are bound to forgive each other all the wrongs we have done in the past, and never return to them. Through forgiveness the Lord is born in our family, as Bethlehem, "the house of bread," happens once again among us. For this reason the holy wafer is called the "bread of love." Chwala na wysokosci! Glory to God in Highest Heaven! And Peace...


Before the Oplatek is passed, the head of the household traditionally extends Christmas wishes and remembers those who are not able to be present. A mention may be made of family members who have departed during the year. Remembering those with whom the vigil supper was celebrated in the past also summons them to share the festival. It is customary for the eldest person to initiate the sharing of the wafer. All share the holy wafer exchanging greetings and joyful wishes for the coming year. Wesołych Swiat! Merry Christmas!


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Text adapted from A Polish Christmas Eve by Rev. Krysa (c) CWB Press. This is the most comprehensive English-language book on Wigilia and Polish Christmas. See Resources to find this book for purchase.