Although the term “bomboniera” comes from French, we can claim that the tradition of giving guests favors to remind them of marriages, baptisms, first communions and other important events in a person’s life, is typically Italian. The word “bomboniera”, indeed, comes from “bombonniere”, a French term that in the 18th century stand for a finely decorated little box that contained sweets (“bon-bon” in French), but in Italy wedding couples used to exchange little gifts containing sweets even in the 15th century, although these gifts were not called “bomboniere” yet. Throughout centuries this tradition has certainly changed and become popular also in other countries, but we can claim that “bomboniere” have always been a typically Italian tradition.
In the beginning they were given to guests only in case of weddings, and in this sense they began to be popular also in France in the 18th century. The tradition of using μπομπονίερες also for other important events, from baptisms to graduations ceremonies, from first communions to confirmations, spread in Italy only later on, most notably after the Second World War, and this tradition is still very popular.
Although “bomboniere” belong above all to the Italian cultural heritage, we cannot deny that similar habits are widespread or are becoming popular also in many other cultures and countries, especially as far as wedding gifts are concerned. In Greece, for example, favors are already part of local habits, while in countries like Portugal, Ireland, Great Britain and the States, but also in Africa and Australia, the interest in them is increasing.
The types of favors and the way they are given to guests change according to the country and to the habits that are already set in that country. In the States and in England, for example, people use placeholders that are also little gifts for the guests, while the traditional favors used in Switzerland are simple red handkerchiefs. Also in other more “exotic” places the tradition of giving gifts during wedding ceremonies is popular: in Malaysia, for example, guests are given decorated hard-boiled eggs, while in Japan, a country where guests are very important, wedding couples usually offer precious gifts called “Hikidemono”, as well as steamed buns stuffed with beans called “kohaku manjyhu”. In China wedding couples do not give objects to their guests: they offer cups of tea to the most ancient gusts as a sign of respect.
Italian “bomboniere” cannot be separated from sugared almonds (in Italian they are called “confetti”), which accompany all types of favors. To each event corresponds a different color of almonds, and their number can vary, although it always has to be odd. However, this does not happen only in Italy; also in Greece and France, indeed, wedding favors are often accompanied by five sugared almonds or only by almonds.