The Antidoron (ἀντίδωρον) is the small piece of bread that is distributed by the priest at the end of a Divine Liturgy service. The literal translation of the word Antidoron means ‘instead of the Gift’. The Gift, of course, refers to the sanctified portions that are blessed during the Liturgy, and prepared during the proskomedi service in Matins, to be used for the Body of Christ for Holy Communion.
Although it has been blessed, the Antidoron has not been consecrated, and consists of the remaining bread portions taken from the same prosforo (bread offering). It is imperative that we have fasted properly to partake of Holy Communion. This is also required of us when we are receiving the Antidoron, regardless of whether or not we have received the Holy Mysteries. In no way does the Antidoron take the place of Holy Communion. When a person approaches the priest at the end of the service, it is customary to place his right hand over his left with the cupped palms held open. The Antidoron is placed into our hands, and then the one receiving the offering bends down and piously kisses the priest’s hand in thanksgiving.
The Antidoron should be consumed carefully and respectfully taking care not to drop any crumbs. Of course, young children should be assisted and shown how to do this, learning to respect the blessed bread and to pick up any pieces that may have fallen. Everyone that attends the Divine Liturgy, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, may receive the blessed bread as an expression of love and the desire for fellowship in Christ.
In the Divine Liturgy, we pray for all men and all women, hoping to bring them to the truth of Orthodoxy. Antidoron may also be taken home for use during the week. It is a pious custom for Orthodox Christians to begin the day, after their morning prayers and before eating, by consuming a small piece of dried Antidoron and drinking Agiasmo or blessed water.
Source: Lychnos October/November 2017