We’ve been discussing for a few weeks how we’d like to celebrate our first married milestone, which got me thinking about the traditions that surround anniversary gifts. I did a little digging into the history behind the list, and thought you might be interested to hear what I found!
The practice of giving certain gifts for certain anniversaries seems to have originated in Medieval Germany, where friends [or the husband, depending on your source] were said to give a wife a wreath of silver after she had been married for 25 years, and a gold wreath after fifty years. Both materials represented harmony.
In 1922, Emily Post listed “eight anniversaries known to all” (1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th) and associated gift materials in her Blue Book of Social Usage. In 1937, the American National Retail Jewelers Association published a more complete guide; they later updated it with a second set of “modern” choices. This is the list we still refer to today:
Of course, as cheesy as it sounds, the best anniversary gift I think you could ever get is another year with your spouse — marriage is a gift in itself, don’t you think? But it’s also absolutely a thing to be celebrated, and gifts are a lovely way to do that. While it’s handy to have suggestions to fall back on when you’re stumped for ideas, and it can be fun to try and think of a creative and meaningful gift within the bounds of each material, the traditional list is in the end just a list of suggestions. John and I love to travel and experience new things, so I’m sure there will be some years when we don’t exchange material gifts at all, but instead choose to take a trip together!
There is one thing I love about the traditional anniversary gift list, however: each material has a symbolic value, and the value increases every year to symbolize the increased investment each partner makes in the other. The idea that my marriage will grow more precious with time is a beautiful one, I think. Here’s to many, many more anniversaries ahead of us all!
Tell me: What anniversary are you celebrating? What did you get each other, if anything, for your first anniversary? Do you follow the traditional list of gift materials? I’d love to know!
P.S. Check back next week — I’ll be offering up some gift ideas for specific anniversary years!