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TIME FOR SUGARED ALMONDS AND CEREMONY GIFTS
History and meaning

Sugared almonds are always symbol of prosperity, happiness and abundance. This tradition comes from the Romans, who used sugared almonds and honey to celebrate union and birth.

We can find historical traces about that in some documents coming from Fabi’s family (447 B.C.) or Apici (37 A.C.), a friend of the emperor Tiberio. Sugared almonds began to spread among rich people only after the discovery of the New World, when they began to import sugar. A few chemists started to cover almonds to create these little and famous candies.

At the same time, there was also a change in the habits of the people who gave the sugared almonds: bride and bridegroom to the guests, and not the opposite anymore. French Literature of the XIV century is full of sugared almonds of different tastes (rose, musk, violet). Napoleon, Louis XIV and Elisabeth I also liked them very much. In the XV century in every elegant meeting rich cups of sugared almonds were expected to be on the tables.

The ‘bassine’ are the machines used to cover the almonds with sugar. These steel or copper boils continue to work and mix almond and sugar. About the colour, we can say that now every ceremony has a particular colour, so sugared almonds follow man from the beginning to the end of his life. They are white for Wedding, Holy Communion and Confirmation, green for Engagement, red for Graduation and multicoloured for every Birthday. About Anniversary, each colour has a special meaning:

1st Anniversary Cotton Wedding colour pink
5th Anniversary Silk Wedding colour dark pink
10th Anniversary Tin Wedding colour yellow
15th Anniversary China Wedding colour light brown
20th Anniversary Crystal Wedding colour light
25th Anniversary Silver Wedding colour silver
30th Anniversary Pearl Wedding colour water
35th Anniversary Sapphire Wedding colour blue
40th Anniversary Emerald Wedding colour green
45th Anniversary Ruby Wedding colour red
50th Anniversary Gold Wedding colour gold
55th Anniversary Ivory Wedding colour ivory
60th Anniversary Diamond Wedding colour white

Usually we celebrate Wedding Anniversary with white almond, exception done for Silver or Gold Wedding. Sugared almonds can be offered one by one during the celebration; on a tray or in a bowl and then given to the guests on a napkin; or packed in little boxes or bags.

In each box we can find 5 sugared almond, but this is not a rule, so the number can be different, but always odd. We can also create some place-markers (little boxes or bags to put on the table if the event celebration consist of a meal) with only one sugared almond inside. But we know for sure that the guests always like to receive and eat more than one.

In chocolate sugared almonds of good quality the important thing is the chocolate inside an the coverage outside should contain little amid. For the sugared almond it is not so simple.

Sugar quality is important but also the type of almond used, its provenience (Sicilian is the best) and the typical sugared almond should contain less sugar and a bigger almond. About the quality value, we must consider that the price comes from the production, the almond, but not from the sugar, whose cost is irrelevant. Another typical symbol for Wedding are the ceremony gifts. The Italian word ‘bomboniera’ comes from the French word ‘bon bon’, that was a little and precious box of sugared almonds that rich people kept for themselves proudly..

It was really fashionable and made by goldsmiths, like an art masterpiece to show during important events like birth, weddings and different celebrations. The ceremony gift spread in the XIX century and, thanks to the industrial production, it became a less expensive and precious object for everybody. Also Manzoni said that the ceremony gifts were used to celebrate the nuns for their vows. This habits is still alive. Since then the ceremony gift is a container for sugared almonds for all celebrations, not only for Wedding, but also for Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Graduation, Silver or Gold or Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

The choice of the ceremony gifts is an important step in the Wedding planning: sometimes it takes a lot to search and choose them. As per all that concerns Wedding, the goal is the harmony: they should be combined to the style and colour of all the other Wedding elements.

The ceremony gift has a double meaning: first it is a memory, a symbol of the Wedding day spent together; then it is a way to thank all the guests for their presence and their gifts. Classic ceremony gifts are vases, little bowls, little boxes, frames, silver pendants but also pieces of china (also Limoges type), potteries, crystals, glass objects (also Murano type). Today everything can become a ceremony gift, because every object can have a special meaning for the couple and can be linked to the event, no matter the shape and the material.

Usually the ceremony gifts contains a ticket with the couple’s names (bridegroom first and not the surnames) and an odd number of sugared almonds, because an odd number can’t be divided as the Wedding couple is. Generally the number is five, like the necessary quality for a good Wedding: Wealth, Happiness, Fertility, Longevity, Richness. The rules of polite behaviour want the ceremony gift to be sent to the wedding couple’s families 20 days after the Wedding, while they are in honeymoon, but in effect the simplest way to give the ceremony gifts is at the end of the meal, after the Wedding cake, when the bridegroom hold them and the bride give them to the guests one to one.

On the contrary, if they are small and the guests are all seated on a table, the ceremony gifts can be put next to each dish. In this case, after the Wedding cake, the couple will turn to the guests holding a silver or crystal bowl full of sugared almonds and then the bride will use a spoon to give the guests an odd number of them. This is the first gift for the couple given together. Usually one ceremony gift is for one family, but if there are engaged couple, one must be given also to the boyfriend.

Tradition ask for a special ceremony gift for relatives and Wedding witness, more precious, which will be given personally before Wedding. For all friends and colleagues not physically present to the event, a little bag of sugared almonds should be given after honeymoon. Many couples today tend to consider ceremony gifts useless, because people will put them in a drawer, but this is not true. A ceremony gift is a wonderful present about You, Your Wedding and the special day spent together and each person will keep it and love it for ever.


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