Per Nozze Pamphlets
Among the monographs and pamphlets in the Guido Mazzoni Collection is an impressive group of 2,883 pieces called "per nozze." This collection of writings published on the occasion of a wedding is second to none in the United States, and is comparable to collections of "per nozze" in the London Library, the State Library in Berlin, and the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence.
The term "per nozze" comes from the phrase commonly found in the publication title of these pieces, per le nozze di..., which means "for the wedding of..." The custom of preparing a gift of verse or prose in honor of a couple's wedding originated with the Greeks, who called these wedding compositions "epithalamia." This tradition continued to develop as a social custom and literary genre to modern times only in Italy, with the exception of a few known examples in France, Germany, and Russia. In Italy the custom of dedicating verse or prose as a wedding gift began in the late 15th century among the nobility, and reached its peak in the 19th century, when it was very much in vogue among not only the nobility, but the bourgeoisie as well.
Common topics of "per nozze" pieces in the Mazzoni Pamphlets Collection of course include the pleasures (or dangers!) of love and marriage. The range of topics for "per nozze" pieces, however, defies the imagination. For instance, a scholarly article on Dante might be published in honor of a wedding within an academic family. For obvious reasons, genealogies of the families involved often were published as "per nozze." Folkloric motifs were important: one "per nozze" contains versions of a traditional wedding song that speculates on what the bride will eat on her wedding night (she starts with half a pigeon, but works her way up to a considerably larger meal!). There are a great many humorous pieces, and many very fine engravings and printers' devices.