Mary Baldwin Staff Member Offers Blessing for Happy Holidays

December 26, 2005

At the final meeting before the holidays, faculty and staff gave silent thanks as Bill Betlej, director of computer information services, offered the following prayer. The Slavic prayer is said by many Polish families before they sit down to a feast, called Wigilia (va-lee-ah), on Christmas Eve.

Betlej explains: “It is a tradition to many Polish families that the entire family gathers at the home of the oldest member. Nine different dishes are served, and an extra place is set at the table to welcome a stranger or someone in need who may happen by. The family gathers around the table, standing, as the oldest member reverently takes the Oplatki (Christmas wafer), breaks off a piece and passes it to the next family member. As he or she does so, they say, ‘May God give you happiness, health and fortune, and after death a heavenly crown.’ This person, in turn, breaks off a piece and says the blessing to the next person as they pass the wafer. When the last person has received the wafer, everyone listens as the prayer is said.”

May your heart be as patient as the earth,
Your love as warm as harvest gold.

May your days be as full as the city is full,
Your nights as joyful as dancers.

May your arms be as welcoming as home,
May your hand be as sure as a friend,
Your dreams as hopeful as a child.

May your faith be enduring as God’s love,
Your spirit as valiant as your heritage.

May your soul be as brave as your people,
And may you be blessed.

May you have wealth, health, happiness
and a golden crown in heaven.