An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Tradition of the Italian Bomboniere

Bomboniere are "favors" or keepsakes given to guests at weddings, baptisms, first communions, or confirmations as a memento of the special occasion. It's a huge tradition in Italy, and there are entire stores dedicated to the specialty of making handmade bomboniere.

Years ago when I was in Italy and announced that I would be getting married, my Nonna said two things: a) I am coming to your wedding and b) While you're in Italy I'm going to buy your bomboniere so you can carry them back with you to the States.

Oh, the excitement visiting the stores and seeing the variety of bomboniere. We eventually ordered 150 bomboniere for the guests, as well as several upscale ones for immediate family. My relatives carefully packaged all 150, and I carried them by hand when I traveled back home.

The bomboniere from our wedding featured a bronze replica of one of the panels from the magnificent bronze doors at the Church of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona, Italy

This past weekend our youngest celebrated his First Holy Eucharist, and to prepare I wanted to make bomboniere with religious artwork representing this very special sacrament. I also wanted the artwork to have been created by a member of a religious community -- either a priest, sister, or brother.

I found exactly what I was looking for at Trinity Stores, an online store based in Colorado which features religious artwork and icons by eight world renowned artists. After browsing through the artwork, I was drawn to the works by Br. Arturo Olivas who paints Catholic images in the style of New Mexican religious folk artists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

There were many images to choose from, but in the end I selected an image featuring San Pascual Bailon, a 16th century Spanish shepherd who became a Franciscan lay brother. He served his fellow Franciscans by working as a shepherd, gardener, porter, and cook. He was particularly devoted to the Eucharist, and in religious art he is often shown in the brown robes of a Franciscan, working in a kitchen and contemplating the Eucharistic host suspended in mid-air in a monstrance.

Because of San Pascual's devotion to the Eucharist, and because his feast day is in May, I thought he would be perfect in the bomboniere for Timothy's First Communion. I ordered the artwork and some small frames.

St. Pascal Baylon
~by Br. Arturo Olivas, SFO
When I received the package from Trinity I couldn't have been more pleased, and went to work assembling the bomboniere. I place the framed print in a cellophane bag, inserted sheaves of wheat to represent the Eucharist, and tied everything with a green ribbon. Inside the bag was also a detailed explanation of both the saint and the artist.

Timothy's First Communion Bomboniere
The bomboniere were then incorporated into the centerpiece of our table, which was decorated in neutrals and greens.

Featuring the bomboniere in a centerpiece

Timothy's First Communion Luncheon
All this fuss, for this little guy, who shared these thoughts about his First Communion: the wine burned my mouth, the bread tastes like cardboard, I wasn't nervous at all, I got tired of everyone taking my picture, and I liked opening the presents.

With Dad


Vanessa said...
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tiziana said...

Come sei brava Maria a ricordare tutte queste cose della nonna, ti ringrazio tanto.
Ho letto la storia di San Pascual Bailon perchè è un santo che non conoscevo e mi è piaciuta molto, è stato proprio un difensore dell'eucarestia. Ho visto anche i lavori di Arturo Olivas, sono molto belli e caratteristici, penso che anch'io avrei scelto quell'immagine. Le tue bomboniere, come pure la tavola che hai preparato, sono bellissime, però più di tutto mi è piaciuto quello che ha detto Timothy....che innocente, adorabile e bel bambino. Penso che Gesù sia stato molto contento di lui.