Wedding anniversary

A wedding anniversary is the anniversary of the date a wedding took place. Traditional names exist for some of them: for instance, fifty years of marriage is called a "golden wedding anniversary" or simply a "golden anniversary" or "golden wedding".

Official recognition

The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary, and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. Later, principally in the twentieth century, commercialism led to the addition of more anniversaries being represented by a named gift.[1]

In the Commonwealth realms, one can receive a message from the monarch for 60th, 65th, and 70th wedding anniversaries, and any wedding anniversary after that.[2] This is done by applying to Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom, or to the Governor-General's office in the other Commonwealth realms.[3]

In Australia, where one can receive a letter of congratulations from the Governor-General on the 50th and all subsequent wedding anniversaries; the Prime Minister, the federal Opposition leader, local members of both state and federal parliaments, and state Governors may also send salutations for the same anniversaries.[4]

In Canada, one can also receive a message from the Governor-General for the 50th anniversary, and every fifth anniversary after that.[5]

In the United States, a couple can receive an anniversary greeting card from the President for the 50th and all subsequent anniversaries.[6]

Roman Catholics may apply for a Papal blessing through their local diocese for wedding anniversaries of a special nature (25th, 50th, 60th, etc.).[7][8]

Celebration and gifts

The names of some anniversaries provide guidance for appropriate or traditional gifts for the spouses to give each other; if there is a party these can be brought by the guests or influence the theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but some years have well-established connections now common to most nations: 5th Wood, 10th Tin, 15th Crystal, 20th China, 25th Silver, 30th Pearl, 35th Jade, 40th Ruby, 45th Sapphire, 50th Gold, 60th Diamond, and 70th Platinum. In English speaking countries the first, wooden, gift was cut on the day of celebration and then presented to the wife as a finished article before the next two quarter days had passed. The modern tradition may have originated in medieval Germany where, if a married couple lived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their wedding, the wife was presented by her friends and neighbours with a silver wreath to congratulate them for the good fortune that had prolonged the lives of the couple for so many years. On celebration of the 50th, the wife received a wreath of gold. Over time the number of symbols expanded and the German tradition came to assign gifts that had direct connections with each stage of married life. The symbols have changed over time. For example, in the United Kingdom, diamond was a well known symbol for the 75th anniversary, but this changed to the now more common 60th anniversary after Queen Victoria's 60 years on the throne was widely marked as her Diamond Jubilee.

The origins of the current gift conventions date to 1937. Before that, only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries had an associated gift. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association (now known as Jewelers of America as a result of an organizational merger) introduced an expanded list of gifts. The revamped list gave a gift for each year up to the 25th, and then for every fifth anniversary after that.[9]

Traditional and modern anniversary gifts

Lists of wedding anniversary gifts vary by country. The Traditional (U.S.) and Modern lists were compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library.[10][11][12][13]

Year Traditional (U.S.) Traditional (U.K.)[14] Modern list created by Chicago Public Library
1st Paper Cotton Clock
2nd Paper Cotton China
3rd Leather Crystal, glass
4th Fruit and flowers Linen, silk Appliances (electrical)
5th Wood Silverware
6th Iron Sugar Wooden objects
7th Wool, copper Woollen Desk sets / Pen and Pencil sets
8th Bronze Salt Linens, lace
9th Pottery Copper Leather goods
10th Tin, aluminum Tin Diamond jewellery
11th Steel Fashion jewellery, accessories
12th Silk Silk and fine linen Pearls, colored gems
13th Lace Textiles, furs
14th Ivory Gold jewellery
15th Crystal Watches
16th Silver holloware
17th Furniture
18th Porcelain
19th Bronze
20th Porcelain Platinum
21st Brass, Nickel
22nd Copper
23rd Silver plate
24th Musical instruments
25th Silver
30th Pearl Diamond
35th Coral, jade Coral Jade
40th Ruby
45th Sapphire
50th Gold
55th Emerald
60th Diamond (yellow) Diamond
65th Blue sapphire
70th Platinum[15][16][17]
75th Diamond, gold
80th Oak[18][19] Diamond, pearl
85th Moonstone Wine Wife's birthstone
90th Stone Engraved marble, granite

Flower gifts

Year Flower
1st Carnation
2nd Lily of the valley
3rd Sunflower
4th Hydrangea
5th Daisy
6th Calla
7th Freesia
8th Lilac
9th Bird of paradise
10th Daffodil
11th Tulip
12th Peony
13th Chrysanthemum
14th Dahlia
15th Rose
20th Aster
25th Iris
28th Orchid
30th Lily
40th Gladiolus
50th Yellow rose, violet

Gemstone gifts

Year Gemstone[20]
1st Mother of Pearl
2nd Garnet
3rd Moonstone
4th Blue Topaz
5th Rose Quartz
6th Amethyst
7th Onyx
8th Tourmaline
9th Lapis Lazuli
10th Crystal or green Tourmaline
11th Turquoise
12th Jade
13th Citrine
14th Opal
15th Rhodolite
20th Emerald
25th Tsavorite
30th Pearl
40th Ruby
50th Gold
60th Diamond
65th Sapphire

See also


  1. "Debrett's Everyday Etiquette". British Wedding Anniversaries. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  2. "Who is entitled?". The Monarchy Today. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  3. "Queen and anniversary messages". The Monarchy Today. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  4. "It's an Honour – Anniversary Messages". Australian Government. 25 January 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
  5. "Invite the Governor General" (Requires access). The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  6. "White House Greeting". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  7. Office of Papal Charities. Retrieved on 2015-05-13.
  8. "To Request a Papal Blessing". The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Office of the Bishop. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  9. Lee, Cookie (October 2001). Wedding Anniversaries: From Paper to Diamond. Ryland Peters & Small.
  10. "Wedding Anniversaries," compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library's Information Center (December 2000)
  11. Anderson, Charles. "The Exchange," RQ 25 (1985): 175.
  12. The World Almanac and Book of Facts, Mahwah, New Jersey: World Almanac Books, 1997.
  13. World Book Encyclopedia, 1997 ed., s.v. "Wedding Anniversary".
  14. Pears Cyclopaedia, 1978–79 edition, "Wedding Anniversaries". L128.
  15. "The platinum wedding anniversary of Jim and Gladys Till". Lancaster Guardian, 8 January 2008.
  16. "Tenor and wife toast 70 years of marriage". North West Evening Mail, 15 August 2008.
  17. "They've been around the world in 70 years". Portsmouth News, 29 July 2008.
  18. Miller, Vikki (24 May 2008). "Britain's longest married couple celebrate a quiet 80th anniversary". The Telegraph.
  19. Facts and figures The British Monarchy
  20. Gemstone Anniversary List. (2015-05-01). (Retrieved 2018-08-02.)
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