When we talk about wedding anniversaries and Jubilee celebrations, we typically talk about silver anniversaries to celebrate 25 years and golden anniversaries to celebrate 50 years.
Celebrating these two specific anniversaries can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where in Germanic regions a husband would give his wife a silver wreath at 25 years of marriage and a gold wreath at 50 years.
However, as 25 years of matrimonial bliss is a long time to wait to enjoy beautiful sterling silver charms, a much-expanded list was created which spans each of the first 15 anniversaries, and then every five years until the 90th wedding anniversary, which would be a world record.
Whilst there are different lists in different countries, here are the traditional gifts for each anniversary in the UK.
The First Five Years
In US tradition, a couple that has been married a year should receive a gift made of paper for their first year and a cotton gift for their second, although in British traditions the order is not necessarily clear.
Both make sense, however, as they are practical symbols of purity and represent how a marriage has left its early honeymoon period.
After this, the third anniversary is leather, a hard-wearing material that has been a symbol of practicality and protection for millennia.
After this was linen, a symbol of delicacy and care, before ending with a wooden gift for the fifth anniversary.
Traditionally, the piece of wood was cut on the anniversary itself and then over the course of six months the husband cared the present for his wife before two quarter days had passed.
- 1st: Paper
- 2nd: Cotton
- 3rd: Leather
- 4th: Linen
- 5th: Wood
From Iron To Tin
The next five years are about construction and materials that represent a strong foundation, starting with Iron for the sixth anniversary before progressing to copper, bronze, pottery and finally tin for the tenth anniversary.
- 6th: Iron
- 7th: Copper
- 8th: Bronze
- 9th: Pottery
- 10th: Tin
From Steel To Crystal
There is a distinct shift from the 11th to the 12th anniversary from practical materials to more delicate precious materials.
Steel is the 11th-anniversary material, but that contrasts silk and fine linen for the 12th, and this continues with lace, ivory and finally crystal for the 15th anniversary.
- 11th: Steel
- 12th: Silk and Fine Linen
- 13th: Lace
- 14th: Ivory
- 15th: Crystal
After this, the tradition is to celebrate every five years of marriage.
Outside of china porcelain for the 20th anniversary, most of the half-century of anniversaries are made up of precious stones:
- 20th: China
- 25th: Silver
- 30th: Pearl
- 35th: Coral
- 40th: Ruby
- 45th: Sapphire
- 50th: Gold
- 55th: Emerald
- 60th: Diamond
- 65th: Blue Sapphire
- 70th: Platinum
- 75th: Diamond And Gold
The final three, once couples reach 80 years of married life return to nature, with the eternal Oak for the 80th anniversary, wine for the 85th anniversary, and finally stone for the 90th anniversary, though sadly no couple has reached that milestone.