A wedding anniversary is the anniversary of the date a wedding took place. Traditional names exist for some of them: for instance, fifty years of marriage is called a "golden wedding anniversary", "golden anniversary" or "golden wedding".
Celebrating wedding anniversaries as gold or silver 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 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, where 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.).
The names of some anniversaries provide guidance for appropriate or traditional gifts for the spouses to give each other; if there is a party these can be brought by the guests or influence the theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but some years have well-established connections now 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 first, wooden, gift was cut on the day of celebration and then presented to the wife as a finished article 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.
|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|
|2nd||Lily of the valley|
|9th||Bird of paradise|
|50th||Yellow rose, violet|