The use of almonds as favors has evolved in significance over the centuries. The ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, were fond of honey-coated almonds. Sweetened almonds later found their way to the celebratory tables of medieval Europe, when they came to be known as dragees. By 1850 the first commercially produced dragees, coated with colored sugar syrup, appeared. In Europe today, dragees are still fixtures at weddings, christenings, and confirmations.
Because the almond is a seed, it represents fertility, abundance, and fruitfulness. When a bitter almond is used in a dragee, the hard sugar coating produces a piquant contrast of sweet with bitter; the dragee thus represents an important part of the wedding vow: "for better or for worse." Just as the couple has pledged to support each other in good times as well as in bad, those in attendance symbolically honor the marriage vows by partaking of the almonds.
Dragees have a long history at weddings, and a paper compote (above) in the center of each table lets your guests be a part of the tradition. Construct the compote from a single piece of paper folded accordion-style, and fill with sugar-coated almonds.
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