Coriandoli, in English known as confetti, are a major part of the Italian carnevale festivities. Every Italian buys bagfuls of the colourful paper confetti to throw in the air, at friends, at passers-by and at the carneval floats during the parade. For days afterwards you find coriandoli in your hair, in your shoes, pockets, bags and all sorts of unlikely places.
The tradition of throwing coriandoli seems to have originated in Milan, where many years ago all sorts of objects like flowers, fruit and worse were thrown at the masked revellers. The Milanese then got into the habit of throwing small pieces of chalk, often launched with a sling which turned the pieces of chalk into dangerous projectiles. Obviously after a few years of horrible accidents the chalk confetti was banned and the search was on for something lighter.
Coriander seeds were easy to find, the plant was common in the Lombardia countryside. The seeds were dried and dipped in chalk or flour before being thrown at Carnevale. Eventually the seeds were replaced by paper confetti, which today is bought in big bagfuls from the local tabacchi, newsagent or even supermarket.
The Carneval was postponed today, it will now take place on Saturday 12th March.