With wedding season upon us, it’s time to brush up on the history of wedding anniversary traditions. The origin of assigning a particular gift to an anniversary dates back to the Middle Ages in the Germanic area of Europe. As this time, the primary wedding anniversaries to celebrate were those of 25 years and 50 years. The presents were always silver and gold, gifts symbolizing the blending of the elements. After 25 years of marriage, a bride received a garland of silver from her husband, and after 50 years, she received a gold wreath. The combining of elements into one stronger material was symbolic of the blended harmony necessary for a marriage to endure over many years of togetherness.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, the concept of anniversary traditions took on a new level of meaning with the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne. At that time, Queen Victoria was one of the longest-ruling magistrates. During this time in history, the Victorians were also well known for their ability to create particular household items designed to serve a very particular use. An example of this is the calling card desk, designed especially to hold calling cards. It’s no surprise the inventive Victorians expanded the custom of anniversary dates into a list for every year. The earliest reference of this list dates to 1875.
Etiquette of Giving
During this same period, Emily Post, an authority on socially correct behavior, published her Blue Book on Social Usage. In the piece, Post recommended the celebration of anniversaries on 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 and 75 years. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association created a more comprehensive anniversary guide with traditional, modern, and jewelry giving recommendations.
Anniversary No. 1 – Paper (traditional), Clock (modern), Gold jewelry (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 5 – Wood (traditional), Silverware (modern), Sapphire (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 10 – Tin/Aluminum (traditional), Diamond jewelry (modern), Diamonds (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 15 – Crystal (traditional), Watches (modern), Ruby (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 20 – China (traditional), Platinum (modern), Peridot (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 25 – Silver (traditional), Sterling (modern), Silver Jubilee (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 50 – Gold (traditional), Gold (modern), Golden Jubilee (jewelry/gem)
Anniversary No. 75 – Diamond (traditional), Gold (modern), Diamond (jewelry/gem)
A Continuing Tradition
In a world increasingly ruled by technology that seems to move quicker and quicker all of the time, it can be very reassuring to have traditions such as the anniversary celebrations. The ceremony of the giving of gifts is a wonderful recognition of the lifelong joining of two lives into one.
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To see our beautiful selection of jewelry and gemstones for anniversary giving, visit us online at Noe’s Jewelry or in person at our store in Raytown, Missouri, to learn more. Prices available on request.