Boubouniera

Athens

Athens

Miranda passed along this photo of the gaping maw of an Athenian taxi being loaded with 25 kilo of “Boubouniera”. Set for a wedding or baptism, these traditional tuile-wrapped packets of koufeta (sugared almonds) are made available to the guests as a favor. It is the best man/woman or godfather/mother who provide these treats and also cover a lot of other expenses.

Anyway, the same tradition applies in Sicily where the packets are called Bombouniera and the almonds are confetti.

Light textual research into the tradition indicates that the preferred amount of almonds in the packet should be an odd number starting with five or seven (one almond is considered cheap) to signify the indivisibility of the relationship. Five almonds represent health, joy, fertility, prosperity and longevity while seven indicate the mysteries (sacraments) of the church.

The almond as a symbol predates Christianity anyway, as the tree and its fruit show up in the Old Testament.

More light research tells us that the tradition of exchanging “bon-bons” in intricate boxes called “bombonieres” is French. OK. The same source suggests that Louis XIV started the tradition but that claim is silly because the French, in their Norman form, were in Sicily long before Louis XIV. A Byzantine connection is more likely.

The vast orchards of almonds in Sicily and in Greece (see the orchards on the old national highway between Volos and the new highway connection at Mikrothives) might tell a different story of the origin of the tradition (if trees could talk).

Palermo

Palermo

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