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A wedding anniversary is the date of each year when your wedding took place. In today’s society these are traditionally marked by something which corresponds to the year – for example, your first wedding anniversary is marked by paper and several of the milestone years are marked by different metals. The origins of this can be traced back to Medieval Europe when husbands would present their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary, and a golden wreath on their fiftieth. Gold and silver are still used to mark these dates today.

Metals are often used to mark these dates and as well as gold and silver, anniversaries are also marked by iron, copper, bronze, tin, steel and platinum. A full list can be seen below.

1 – Paper
2 – Cotton
3 – Leather
4 – Flowers/Fruit
5 – Wood
6 – Sugar
7 – Wool/Copper
8 – Bronze/Pottery
9 – Willow/Pottery
10 – Tin
11 – Steel
12 – Silk/Linen
13 – Lace
14 – Ivory
15 – Crystal
20 – China
25 – Silver
30 – Pearl
35 – Coral
40 – Ruby
45 – Sapphire
50 – Gold
55 – Emerald
60 – Diamond
70 – Platinum

Some of the earlier anniversaries can vary depending on which country you are from and their specific traditions which is why some have more than one option. The significant dates such as 25, 50, 60 etc. always remain the same though. Before the 1930’s only the first anniversary and milestone years, such as 10, 15 etc, had a material to represent it, with the additions being made after this for a suggested material to mark each year. It was in 1937 that the American National Retail Jewellery Association issued a more comprehensive list than the existing one with materials to represent every year up until 15.

The representative material is often used as a guide for the couple to purchase gifts that will mark each year as it passes, with the focus often on sentimental value or practicality in the earlier years. It was common for friends and family to give gifts that were useful in the house, with the focus shifting more towards luxury gifts the longer the couple remained together.

Each material is chosen to represent something essential in making a good marriage. For example, tin, which marks the 10th anniversary, symbolises the flexibility of a good relationship, whereas paper, which marks the 1st anniversary, can be seen to represent the strength of a marriage obtained from its interlocking fibres.


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