We’re all familiar with silver wedding and golden wedding anniversaries. These were celebrated back in the days of the Holy Roman Empire and we still celebrate to this day with anniversary cards and presents and even parties for the big dates!
Back in Roman times, husbands would crown their wives with a silver wreath on their 25th wedding anniversary and a gold wreath on their 50th.
Most of us in the UK will also be familiar with the ruby and diamond wedding anniversaries also. But did you know that a modern tradition has evolved linking items or materials to almost every single wedding anniversary milestone as themes for present-giving?
They generally have a flower associated with them too. Apart from the gold and silver anniversaries, many of these, date back a long time; most, however, are 20th century innovations. Let’s look at each of these anniversaries in turn together with their associated symbols.
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Paper is the recognised first year anniversary symbol. Gift web sites tell us that this because the fibres that entwine to make paper are firmly bonded and that this symbolises the bond of marriage already in existence for one year.
Flower: Carnations are the flower associated with this first-year wedding anniversary, (to a lesser extent the pansy also).
The carnation symbolises many things, but love in particular, along with red roses. According to Wikipedia, there is a Christian legend that Carnations first appeared when Jesus was carrying the cross. The Virgin Mary wept and Carnations grew where her tear drops fell. However, this is an unlikely story since the scholar, Theophrastus wrote about carnations some three centuries earlier (also recounted in Wikipedia). Some of the anniversaries seem to have no story behind the symbols and flowers that are associated with them. Others have many years of tradition behind them.
The fifteenth wedding anniversary is a fairly important milestone. Crystal, symbol of clarity and transparency, is traditionally associated with this anniversary with the rose as the flower and the beautiful ruby as the gemstone.
For some years we don’t have any traditional symbols, so some were created in modern times: silver for 16th, porcelain for 17th, furniture for 18th, and bronze for 19th.
China is the traditional representation for the 20th milestone of wedding anniversaries. Beautiful china is said to represent the beauty of a happy 20-year relationship. For this anniversary year, the anniversary theme goes back centuries.
This brings us to The Silver Jubilee, the 25th Anniversary landmark, the time when the previously mentioned Danes build their second half of an arch and when special postage stamps are issued for Royal commemorations.
Silver is the traditional theme of this anniversary and Isis is the flower. As we mentioned right at the beginning, this is the symbol that started with the Romans through their tradition of crowning their wives with a silver wreath on their 25th wedding anniversary. After this the gaps for anniversary celebrations lengthen to five or ten years.
Perhaps by this time if marriages have lasted this long, people feel so well ensconced in their relationship that they do not feel the need for annual celebrations. The remaining themes are around diamonds and other precious gems.
Couples who live long enough to celebrate 80 years of marriage must be around 100 years old or more so the symbolism of the oak, that tree that lives on seemingly for ever, is self-evident.
Well Silver, apart from the Roman connection, was thought in more superstitious times to have magical properties and to bring luck to those who wore it. It has always been recognised as a commodity of value. In French and in many other languages, the word for ‘money’ is the same as the word for ‘silver’.
Pearls are traditionally considered symbols of wisdom gained from life’s experience. They have been associated with wisdom in ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Persian times – see https://bellatory.com/fashion-accessories/pearl-myth.
Coral, as described on a website on building beautiful souls, is said to have healing properties.
Coral, you will remember, is the theme for the 35th wedding anniversary. Presumably, this comes at an age when healing properties start being rather useful.
As for Rubies, the website gemstone.org recounts quite a lot of mythology round this precious stone believed to have powers of energy and protection.
What about Sapphire for the 45th anniversary and Emerald for the 55th? Sapphire is another gemstone reputed to offer protection to its wearer. It is in many cultures associated with heaven. The ancient Persians believed that it was the reflection from Sapphires that made the sky blue. The website, “jewels for me”, gives quite a lot of stories on this gemstone.
Gold is associated with wealth and status, elegance and sophistication. As for Emeralds, they are another stone said to have healing powers, promoting peace and balance, reflection and growth.
We are left with Diamonds. They are thought to attract abundance, harmony and true love in relationships. The saying goes that they are a girl’s best friend. And the film title says that they are for ever – a fitting association for a sixtieth wedding anniversary.
To see our collection of Anniversary Cards please visit: https://cardology.co.uk/collections/anniversary