First time I have heard that British people throw glazed almonds to the bride and the groom after their wedding I must admit that I was a little puzzled but after a while I discovered that I was mistaken. In Italian the word “confetti” is in fact used to describe almonds with a hard sugar coating. Did somebody get lost in translation? Well it’s a bit of a mess, honestly.

The English word confetti is adopted from the Italian confectionary of the same name, which was a small sweet traditionally thrown during carnivals. The Italian word for paper confetti is coriandoli which refers to the coriander seeds originally contained within the sweet.

After coriander seeds were dropped and replaced by almonds and the word coriandoli in Italian continued to be used just to talk about small pieces of colourful paper which gradually replaced the sweets and that are still used to celebrate Carnival but normally not weddings; Italians normally throw rice to the happy couple and even the British did but the traditional rice symbolising sexual fertility was dropped and replaced by shreds of coloured paper which kept to be called “confetti’ even if they were not little sweets anymore.

By tradition, the Italian confetti (sugar coated almonds) are given out at weddings and baptisms (white coating), or graduations (red coating), often wrapped in a small tulle bag as a gift to the guests. This object is normally called “bomboniera”. For a wedding, they are as well said to represent the hope that the new couple will have a fertile marriage.

In the pictures: Italian confetti in a bomboniera, British confetti (In Italian called coriandoli) and a happy couple celebrating their wedding!

Bomboniera, confetti e coriandoli