Ever wondered about the origin of the vibrant, multi-colored paper bits that fly through the air at weddings, parades, concerts, and other festive occasions? This lively symbol of celebration, known as confetti, has a history that is as rich and colorful as the confetti itself. It has traveled a long journey, from the streets of medieval Italy to the modern-day high-tech celebrations across the world.

Confetti Origins in Italy

The story of confetti begins in the medieval period in Italy. The word ‘confetti’ comes from the Italian term for confectionery, drawing a connection with the tradition’s initial form. During carnival periods, especially the famous Carnevale di Venezia, it was customary for the participants to throw objects like mud balls, eggs, coins, fruit, or even flowers at each other as part of the festivities. However, in the late Middle Ages, nobles began a tradition of tossing confections or ‘sweetmeats’ to the crowds during parades or other events.

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From Sweetmeats to Plaster

The transition from throwing edible delights to items less appetizing occurred in the 19th century. Confectioneries were replaced with mock candies made of chalk or plaster, an economical solution that proved to be safer and less messy than their edible predecessors. However, this change wasn’t completely accepted by the public due to the hardness of these plaster confetti, which could be painful when thrown at high speeds or large volumes.

Birth of Paper Confetti

The transformation from plaster to paper confetti came about in the late 19th century, coinciding with the industrial revolution. With the advent of modern paper production methods, creating small, colorful bits of paper was both easy and cost-effective. The first documented use of paper confetti was during the 1885 New Year’s Eve celebration in Paris. The new material was less painful and more visually appealing than plaster or chalk, making it an instant success.

Evolution and Modern Times

Since then, confetti has evolved and diversified in countless ways. In the early 20th century, innovations like confetti cannons and launchers began to emerge, enabling confetti to be shot high into the air and create a more spectacular effect. Additionally, biodegradable confetti became popular as environmental awareness increased.

In the late 20th and 21st centuries, confetti has become a staple at various events, including sports championships, political rallies, music concerts, and particularly weddings. At weddings, it is now a common sight to see newlyweds showered with a flurry of confetti, symbolizing prosperity and fertility.

More recently, with concerns about sustainability, companies are producing eco-friendly confetti, made from biodegradable materials that dissolve or decompose after use. Some versions are even made from dried flower petals, bringing confetti closer to its historical roots.

Make Your Own Confetti

Creating your own confetti is a fun and straightforward craft project that can be tailored to suit a variety of festive occasions. The beauty of homemade confetti lies in the freedom it gives you to choose the colors, materials, and shapes that perfectly match your event’s theme.

Start by selecting the paper or material you’d like to use. Colorful construction paper, old magazines, tissue paper, or even metallic foil are all great options. Once you’ve chosen your material, decide on the shape of your confetti. Traditional confetti is circular, but don’t let that limit your creativity. You can make hearts, stars, or any shape that fits your theme using shape punches available in craft stores. If you’re going for a more organic look, you can simply tear your paper into small pieces. For the classic circular confetti, use a hole punch to create uniformly shaped pieces. Ensure to spread out your punching to get the most out of your material. Collect your confetti in a bag or box as you go, and you’re ready to add a splash of color and joy to your celebration!

For Dessert

In this digital age where virtual team building is increasingly becoming the norm, confetti can still play a key role in adding an element of surprise and fun to your online sessions. During a virtual class or team meeting, you can introduce a ‘confetti moment’ to celebrate team accomplishments, individual successes, or the completion of a successful project. Instruct your team members beforehand to prepare their own homemade confetti. At the decided moment, everyone can toss their confetti into the air in front of their webcams, providing a vivid, colorful spectacle that bridges the digital divide and brings a real sense of unity and shared celebration. Not only does this create an engaging visual experience, but it also encourages team members to actively participate in the celebration, fostering a stronger team spirit. This innovative application of confetti demonstrates that, regardless of physical distances, it’s possible to maintain a festive atmosphere that enlivens virtual interactions and celebrates collective achievements.

Nicola Killops

Nicola Killops

Nicola is a former teacher and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She now writes full-time, with her partner, Justin. Nicola loves food, music, travel, and is a proud human and pet mom.