“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
— Philippians 4:8
I love this Scripture verse from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. It helps me keep my peace and joy even in the midst of whatever madness and sadness might going on around us. So, as we close out this summer amidst yet another bombardment of negative news, I thought I would give us all the opportunity to think and reflect on St. Paul’s advice. This doesn’t mean we deny the problems. It does mean that we never forget that there is still goodness, beauty, as well as excellence all around us. God’s world goes on under His loving watch and there is much for which to be grateful; much to admire, and to enjoy such as weddings, and other celebrations particular to this time of year.
Summertime is a popular season for weddings and other family celebrations. Being from an Italian descent, I’ve been to many an Italian wedding in my day. If you’re heading to a celebration with an Italian connection you’ll find, if you haven’t experienced them already, many of the Italian wedding traditions have carried over to the Italian American culture, and are we’re sure glad they did.
No Italian wedding here in America, or in my beloved Bella Italia, is complete after all, without the three C’s so to speak: confetti, cookies, and cocktails. The confetti are more commonly known here stateside as Jordan almonds. You’ll find them at nuptial celebrations being offered as a cute favor for guests usually wrapped in a lovely little package. You’ll also see them sprinkled on top of the delicious trays of Italian dolce, or cookies, trays that grace both the dinner tables and the dessert tables.
The first original Italian confetti factory opened in the beautiful village of Sulmona in the Abruzzo region of Italy, not far from the Adriatic and about two hours east of Rome. Confetti really began to spread throughout Italy during the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Abruzzo region was officially declared the “capital of confetti” in 1783.
I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful town of Sulmona several years ago, and was delighted to see the variety of creations all made with confetti. As a matter of fact, when my husband and I first arrived in Sulmona, we walked right past most of the amazing confetti stores because we thought they were flower shops. That’s how real the creations, as you can see from the photos, are. It’s not just the quaint little mesh bags filled with the delicacies. The flowers and other artistic creations are endless and in addition to weddings are often found as favors at baby showers, birthday parties, and religious occasions such as baptisms and First Holy Communion gatherings. Typically, white confetti is used in favors for weddings, baptisms, and First Holy Communions. Silver confetti is sometimes used for twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries, and some even use sky-blue or pink for baby showers and christenings. Red can be used for graduations, and green for wedding engagement celebrations.
Italian cookies are truly one of my favorite desserts! And no traditional Italian wedding would be celebrated without them. Some popular Italian cookies include pizzelles, Italian butterball cookies, biscotti, and Italian wedding cookies – an anise-infused drop cookie with a simple, sugar glaze. The lemon version of this Italian wedding cookie is known as taddales, also one of my favorites. I just attended a beautiful Italian wedding recently which served Jordan almonds and my husband and I received a wonderful welcome bag including confetti placed so beautifully in the pedal of a satin flower imported from Italy, and a pouch of homemade Italian taddale cookies with other goodies upon arrival to the wedding weekend…it was so yummy!
Those confetti and cookies wouldn’t be complete without refreshing drinks to wash them down. Let’s start with the classic Prosecco, Italian sparkling wine. Expect to toast the bride and groom with this delightful bubbly and to have plenty of it served with the main course as well. Perhaps before you hit the dance floor to try your hand, or more specifically your feet, at a Tarantella, you’ll try the famous Aperol Spritz, or a Bellini. If something a little lighter is to your liking, you might find a simple wine spritzer, with a splash of Pinot Grigio and sparkling water, will do the trick.
Congratulations to the recent Bride and Groom of the wedding I attended, Courtney and Eduardo, who popped a beautiful bottle of Italian Prosecco as soon as they left the church to celebrate! Even at the reception they had an Italian “Champagne Wall” where 200 glasses of Prosecco were being served for the guests to grab it anytime!
At the ceremony, it was extra special that my husband Deacon Dominic Pastore was able to serve on the altar for this sacred event. We were so moved that this devout Catholic couple requested for this to be a “unplugged” ceremony – asking all the guests to put the phones away during the ceremony so we could focus on the sacred moment and the true meaning and beauty of the sacrament of marriage.
Plus, no Italian wedding would be complete without the singing of the Ave Maria. Typically, the bride and groom pays a visit to honor the Blessed Mother with flowers, and this wedding I recently attended was no exception.
As we approach this weekend’s celebration of the Queenship of Mary, let’s remember that Jesus is still King, Mary, His Mother is Queen of Heaven and Mother to us all. If you find yourself in fear and uncertainty in these times, have hope in Christ and ask His Blessed Mother to comfort you. After all, she is the one who crushed the head of Satan.
Turning our hearts and mind to God and reflecting on what’s noble and pure helps during these trying times. Satan wants us to dwell on the negative and evil all around us. I’ve been trying to take breaks from the negative news cycle and focus on heavenly things.
This is what was especially so refreshing to see – this beautiful young couple, that actually met at a Catholic student center at college, be so devout in their faith – not only in Our Blessed Mother Mary, but also the importance of the Eucharist. I was so moved, and so was my husband, at the wedding rehearsal when Courtney said to the wedding coordinator that one of the most important pictures of the day she wanted was a photograph of them receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. This is so rare nowadays and I hope this provides hope and inspiration for you to know that there are still young couples out there that want to keep the faith and carry on their Catholic heritage.
So even if you don’t have a wedding to attend in the month of August, since this month is National Prosecco Month in Italy, why not grab a glass of deliciousness, toast to devout Catholic couples and newlyweds everywhere, and enjoy your own sweet treats with Jordan almonds and a few cookies from your local Italian bakery thrown in for good measure. Confetti, cookies, and cocktails are a good combination anytime, anywhere.
Stay positive! Keep the Faith! Christ is the Answer!
Salute’ and Cin Cin!