A wedding anniversary is the anniversary of the date a wedding took place. Couples may take the occasion to celebrate their relationship, either privately or with a larger party. Special celebrations and gifts are often given for particular anniversary milestones (e.g. 10, 15, 20, 25 years). In some cultures, traditional names exist for milestone anniversaries; for instance, fifty years of marriage may be known as a "golden wedding anniversary", "golden anniversary" or "golden wedding".
Celebrating wedding anniversaries as gold (50 years) or silver (25 years) is documented in Germanic countries since the 1500s. In the twentieth century, commercialism led to the celebration of more anniversaries according to a list of predetermined gifts.
In some parts of the world, couples can receive special recognition from government officials for particular milestones. In the Commonwealth realms, one can receive a message from the monarch for 60th, 65th, and 70th wedding anniversaries, and any wedding anniversary after that. This is done by applying to Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom, or to the governor-general's office in the other Commonwealth realms.
In Australia, one can receive a letter of congratulations from the governor-general on the 50th and all subsequent wedding anniversaries. The prime minister, the federal Opposition leader, local members of both state and federal parliaments, and state governors may also send salutations for the same anniversaries.
In Canada, one can also receive a message from the governor-general for the 50th anniversary, and every fifth anniversary after that.
In the United States, a couple can receive an anniversary greeting card from the president for the 50th and all subsequent anniversaries.
Roman Catholics may apply for a papal blessing through their local diocese for wedding anniversaries of a special nature (25th, 50th, 60th, etc.).
Some significant anniversaries have names which suggest appropriate or traditional gifts. These gifts may be exchanged by spouses or given by guests at parties; they may also influence an anniversary party's theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but some anniversary years now have well-established connections common to most nations: 5th Wood, 10th Tin, 15th Crystal, 20th China, 25th Silver, 30th Pearl, 35th Jade, 40th Ruby, 45th Sapphire, 50th Gold, 60th Diamond, and 70th Platinum. In English-speaking countries, the fifth year gift (wood) was cut on the day of celebration and then presented to the wife as a finished item before the next two quarter days had passed.
In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association (now known as Jewelers of America as a result of an organizational merger) introduced an expanded list of gifts. The revamped list gave a gift for each year up to the 25th, and then for every fifth anniversary after that.
In South India, 60th and 80th wedding anniversaries are accompanied by large celebrations similar to weddings. In Tamil Nadu, there is a famous Thirukadaiyur Temple where special pujas are conducted for wedding anniversaries.
The podcast A Problem Squared suggested graphite as a -1th wedding anniversary gift (in a situation where the couple knows their elopement date more than a year ahead of time).
|Year||Traditional (U.S.)||Traditional (U.K.)|
|1st||Paper||Cotton or Paper|
|2nd||Cotton||Paper or Cotton|
|4th||Fruit and flowers||Linen, silk|
|12th||Silk||Silk and fine linen|
Flowers are also associated with wedding anniversaries up to and including the 50th anniversary.
|50th||Yellow rose with violets|