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Wedding Anniversary Names

Updated on December 19, 2010

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 ?

In the old continent, 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 Beginning

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.

A Jeweler's List...

In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler 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...

Table of Anniversary Names

1 to 9 years
10 to 19 years
20 to 49 years
50 to 80 years
1 : Cotton
10 : Tin
20 : porcelain
50 : Gold
2 : Cardboard
11 : Steel
25 : Silver
55 : Emerald
3 : Leather
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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