We’re often asked why sugared almonds are traditional or where favours originate from when people are ordering favours so whether you’re following tradition or are simply intrigued below is a brief history:
The custom of giving guests wedding favours as a thank you gesture has been traced back many centuries and is thought to have started amongst European aristocrats and was originally referred to as the bonbonniere (a bomboniere in Italy).
A bonbonniere was a small box made of porcelain, crystal, precious stone or metal and contained sugar treats or cubes which were a symbol of wealth as during this time sugar was a rare and expensive commodity and was believed to have medicinal benefits.
As the price of sugar fell over time the popularity of giving guests these favours spread down the social classes and in the 13th century the sugar was replaced by sugared almonds which were originally referred to as confetti translated in Italian to confit (from confiture).
The bitter almond and the sweet sugar shell are said to represent the bitter sweetness of marriage. Traditionally five of these were given to guests to represent health, wealth, happiness, long life & fertility. These are represented in the below traditional poem:
Five sugared almonds for each guest to eat
To remind us that life is both bitter and sweet.
Five wishes for the new husband and wife —
Health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life!
There are various cultural traditions too such as Greek tradition says that if an unmarried woman puts these almonds under her pillow she will dream of her future husband and some people believe that the longer the guests resist eating the almonds the longer the marriage will last!
Bonbonnieres are more commonly known today as wedding favours and over time many people have chosen alternatives to almonds for thanking guests ranging from truffles to seeds and more elaborate gifts. These are now used to complement the overall wedding theme and are shared in cultures worldwide.