Italian Wedding Favors/favours
We got the word ‘confetti’ from the tradition of giving the Italian wedding favours to guests, symbolizing the bitter-sweet union of marriage. Italy is synonymous with romance, with famous literary lovers such as Romeo and Juliet heralding from the Italian city of Verona and Casanova’s reputation as a charmer of women. Sultry, suave and flirtatious are phrases that come to women’s minds when they think of Italian men – in the nicest possible sense, of course. In fact, there was a magazine survey carried out that was completed by 1,000 Italian men.
The results were reported on a mainstream Italian website: it appears that Italian men considered it to be good practice to take a book to the beach with them as a means of encouraging women to strike up a conversation with them. That wasn’t just one or two of them, but 68% of those Italian men who completed the survey! Furthermore, of that 68%, as many as 80% of them considered that only two titles would do: The Bible and Divine Comedy written by Dante. As if that wasn’t enough to convince you of Italy’s place in the world of love, the Italian language itself is known as one of the ‘Romance’ languages of Europe, along with French, Spanish and Portuguese.
History of the Bomboniere
The ‘bomboniere’ is the original name by which wedding favours were known, a term still commonly used and directly interchangeable with ‘Italian wedding favours’. Many countries around the world have specific wedding customs associated with them and giving the traditional Italian wedding favours to guests at a wedding is a custom that has been practised in many European countries, such as Italy and Greece, for many hundreds of years. It wasn’t always the general populace who offered Italian wedding favours to their guests, however. Originally it was a fashion limited to the aristocracy and the wealthy: families such as the Borgia family or that of the aristocratic Medici family from Florence whose lavish offerings were intended to display the wealth and power of this family.
From these beginnings, when precious jewels were given, as well as gifts consisting of crystal, porcelain, silver and gold, the widespread tradition of this custom spread. Along with giving such rich offerings to guests at the wedding, the original bombonieres, or Italian wedding favours, always included 5 almonds, symbolic of luck, in terms of health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. At this particular time, sugar was an extremely expensive commodity which was also widely believed to contain medicinal properties. These five almonds were offered to guests in little boxes, often along with other sweets of the time. The five almonds contained in the traditional Italian wedding favours came to symbolize the bitter-sweet union of marriage and came to be known as confetti.
Chocolate and Candy
Nowadays Italian wedding favours have evolved to include many little gifts offered as keepsakes to guests who attend the wedding of a happy couple, perhaps something as simple as a book of matches printed with the name and date of the wedding. Confectioners’ perfected the skill of dipping the best Jordan almonds into candied coatings which eventually developed into the brightly coloured sugared almonds we know of today as an integral part of Italian wedding favours. In Italy nowadays, guests are likely to leave a wedding after being presented with one of these bonbonnieres, more often than not consisting of candied sugar almonds or almonds covered in chocolate as an acceptable variation on this charming theme.