Italian wedding receptions return, and candy makers rejoice

·3 min read

Italy is lifting its pandemic-long ban on wedding receptions, and producers of the traditional sugar-coated almond candies known as confetti, are back to work in a big way. If these sound awfully familiar to you, that’s because confetti is sometimes called Jordan almonds (which is how I’ve always known them). In Italy, brides share confetti with wedding guests to celebrate the happy occasion. The New York Times reports on how Sulmona, the Italian city known for producing these treats, is reviving as life inches back towards normal.

Giada Di Natale, 27, was supposed to get married last year, on July 18, but was forced to push her wedding date back due to the pandemic.

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“Every morning, the first thing I did on my phone was type in ‘News,’ and ‘Weddings,’” Di Natale told the Times. Last month, Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, urged “a little more patience” before wedding receptions could start up again. On May 17, however, the Italian government said that wedding receptions could return in June, provided people follow social-distancing guidelines for the celebrations.

Daniela Napoleone, 38, was also supposed to get married last June, after 19 years of partnership with her fiancé, Alesio Fazi, 43. The couple have two children together. “He finally proposes,” she said. “And a pandemic explodes.” They are now planning on getting hitched in September. Napoleone said that her relatives already asked her if there was going to be a confetti buffet corner with different colors and flavors.

“In one way or another,” she told them, “they will be there.”

The two spoke with the Times while they were waiting to meet with a priest, Domenico Villani. Villani keeps a jar filled with confetti his office. “I eat them all the time,” he said.

Sulmona’s history with confetti goes back to the 1400s, when nuns at the Monastery of Santa Chiaria (which is now a museum) candied almonds and transformed them into rosaries. But the candies quickly became associated as party favors, thanks, in part, to a party in advance of Lucrezia Borgia’s wedding in 1494. Only women were invited, sans husbands, to the festivities, and things got rowdy with those candy-coated nuts. According to one account, the “Pope [who also happened to be Borgia’s father] presented a silver cup of confections, which, amid much outrageous merriment, were emptied into their bosoms.”

Confetti is also a favorite with the Vatican, which purchased it throughout the pandemic. The church hierarchy made large orders to celebrate celebrations of the anniversaries of the prelates’ ordinations.

The Times piece goes in-depth into the intricacies of the confetti business, even delving into store rivalries, celebrities who are fans (including George Clooney), and stories of how the rich insisted on celebrating weddings through the pandemic, including of course, orders of confetti, which kept candymakers afloat through the hard times. Make sure you give it a read sometime today. I never knew that the candy-coated nuts were so beloved and had such a rich celebratory history.