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The History of Confetti

Confetti has surprisingly ancient origins and dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who had a custom called “phyllobia,” which involved throwing branches, leaves, garlands, and other plants to celebrate returning soldiers, victorious athletes, and newly married couples, and also to mourn the dead. The modern word “confetti” has Latin roots which eventually gave rise to the 18th century Italian word confetti, meaning "little sweets." And early forms of confetti were indeed literal sweets and candies thrown around at festive events. In 19th century Italy, sugarplums were thrown during Carnevale. However, because sugar was expensive at that time, revelers would often throw plaster balls, bones, and stones instead, which creates darker parallels to the practice of stoning individuals. Confetti as we know it today was developed in the late 1800s…because of silkworms! Commercial silkworms are known to have difficulty hatching from their eggs and textile merchants discovered that placing pieces of perforated paper above the trays full of eggs assisted their exits. Around 1875, an enterprising Milanese mill owner realized that he could cut up these papers and hand them out to his employees during Carnevale. He reasoned that if people were going to throw things during the festivities, it would be better for them to throw harmless pieces of paper. Of course, the concept of paper confetti caught on and today we associate it with a variety of celebratory events, including New Year’s Eve celebrations, weddings, concerts, sports games, and more!

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