NAMES OF WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES

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Wedding anniversary

Ever so often a wedding anniversary gives you something to celebrate. Now Golden and Diamond anniversaries are not really uncommon, but do you know the names of the other anniversaries ?

The names that were given to wedding anniversaries came from ancient folk customs, of which the origin can not even be traced anymore. They usually referred to materials, of which the value increased, along with the number of anniversary years. Some other lists are even named after flowers !

Different materials were chosen, according to the region where they were found. Some were valued more or less, according to the local market. For example, in the Netherlands some anniversaries have other names than in Belgium, even though the two countries are neighbors...

The origin

The earliest references to wedding anniversaries date from the 1800's. They seem to have originated in the Germanic region, where the custom was for the spouse to give his wife a silver garland when they had been married for twenty-five years. Gold became the second traditional wedding anniversary, after fifty years.

Note however that the average life expectancy was not as long as it is today ! In several European countries, therefore twelve and a half years of marriage were celebrated using Copper as the anniversary symbol. Around 1875, another newcomer was the fifth anniversary, with wood.

Queen Victoria

There are two Diamond anniversaries, one at 60, and one at 65 years. The 60-year mark was added in 1897, when Queen Victoria celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1837. The difference between the two materials is the crude and the cut diamond. In some lists, the latter is replaced with a blue sapphire.

Before 1937, not all wedding anniversaries were represented by a material. Only the first anniversary and important ones such as 10th, 20th, 25th, 50th and 70th year were named. Later, more materials were added, and the list was continuously updated by commercial companies, to increase the sales of presents.

cartoon of a wedding
wedding bouquet

A Jeweler's list...

In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler's Association issued a more comprehensive list. It associated a material for each anniversary year up to the 15th anniversary, and then each fifth year after that up to the sixtieth Anniversary. The next anniversaries were added later, as the average life expectancy increased !

There are many slightly different lists of wedding anniversary names, and so a search can become somewhat confusing.

My list

The first anniversary is rather humorous, and perfectly fits newlyweds. It takes place after only 14 days and carries the symbol of Paper...

1 to 9 years 10 tot 19 years 20 tot 49 years 50 tot 80 years
       
1 : Cotton 10 : Tin 20 : Porcelain 50 : Gold
2 : Cardboard 11 : Steel 25 : Silver 55 : Emerald
3 : Leatherr 12 : Linen 30 : Pearl 60 : Diamond
4 : Wax 12½ : Copper 35 : Coral 65 : Diamond (cut)
5 : Wood 13 : Lace 40 : Ruby 70 : Platinum
6 : Iron 14 : Ivory 45 : Sapphire 75 : Alabaster
7 : Wool 15 : Crystal   80 : Oak
8 : Bronze      
9 : Pottery      

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