The word derived from the Latin confectum, meaning prepared. The traditional confetto is an almond coated in cooked fine sugar. The result is a white almond-shaped sweet that is given away in sets, hence use of the plural form, confetti, is more common.
Confetti are also made with chocolate instead of almonds. They are given away (in small bags or boxes) to family and friends for special occasions, like weddings, christenings, graduations, etc. Confetti for weddings are white, for a baby are gender-colored (pink or light blue) and for graduation are red. Silver and gold confetti celebrate 25th and 50th years of marriage, respectively [this site has some photos].
The English word 'confetti' corresponds to the Italian coriandoli. The connection is an interesting story: once upon a time, during Carnival, people threw confetti that had a coriander seed inside. Later on, small pieces of paper substituted the confetti and their Italian name refers to the original ingredient, coriandolo, while the English-speaking world remained faithful to the original name and called them confetti.
[This post is dedicated to Christine.]
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