Confused About Confetti and Coriander


It’s Carnival, and the streets are littered with … what?

Confetti, in Italian, are the sugared almonds given to guests, traditionally at a wedding, when the sugar coating is white, and now extended to pink or blue at a baptism and red at a university graduation. “A quando i confetti” is apparently a cute way of asking when one is going to get married. Given that they are rather hard, one understandably does not throw confetti at a wedding. One throws rice.

And then it gets tricky. Because Italians do throw little bits of coloured paper, but during Carnival and New Year’s, rather than at newlyweds.

I guess that confetti derives somehow or another from confezione, a package (of sugared almonds) or confection. Trying to find the meaning of coriander, though, is more difficult. Neither of my two little reference books has it, and I don’t have a copy of Stearn’s Botanical Latin. Most places just say it is derived from some ancient version of the word coriander. Eventually, I found the botanary, at Dave’s Garden, which says that it is: “From the Greek koris, a bug or gnat; referring to its aroma”. That’s better, although the logical positivist in me would love to know which bug or gnat, so I could try a sniff test.

Questions remain:

  • Why are coriandoli so called? Were coriander seeds ever thrown during celebrations?

  • How did Italian almond confetti get transformed into English paper confetti?

Over to you, internets.


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