Anniversary Traditions Around the World
The current list of gifts associated with each wedding anniversary is partly a modern invention and partly also a very ancient tradition.
The tradition of giving a married couple a gift on certain milestone anniversaries of their marriage, dates back to medieval Germany where if a married couple was able to celebrate the silver jubilee (25 years) of their wedding, the bride was presented by his friends and neighbors with a silver crown, partly to congratulate her for the good fortune that had prolonged the life of the partners for many years, and partly in recognition of the fact that the happily wedded couple had enjoyed a harmonious relationship. In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary, the woman was traditionally given a gold crown. These anniversaries were henceforth known as the silver wedding and golden wedding day respectively.
With the passage of time the number of symbols used has increased and the German tradition of assigning specific gifts that have direct connection with each of the stages of life has expanded throughout the Western world. The gifts that are now traditionally given for each wedding anniversary vary from country to country. A common theme is that the gifts are made of more fragile materials in the beginning and more solid, valuable substances as the years pass, in recognition of the fact that the marriage has endured.
The names given to these anniversaries provide a guide for appropriate gifts by one spouse to the other, or if there is a party, these gifts can be given by the guests. Also the name can influence the theme of decoration used in the party.
These gifts may vary in different countries, but some anniversaries have reference to a well-established material now common to most countries these are: 5 Wood, 10 Aluminum, 15 Crystal, 20 Porcelain, 25 Silver, 30 Pearl, 40, Ruby, 50 Gold, 60 Diamonds. Diamonds are given as a symbol of purity and hardness, symbolizing the enduring nature of a very long marriage. For that reason, diamonds are given as part of the wedding ring (in hope that the marriage will be everlasting like a diamond) and on the fiftieth wedding anniversary, in recognition that the marriage has endured.
Historically, it was forbidden to give pearls to a girlfriend, as they were thought to symbolize crying in marriage. for the same reason, displaying pearls on their wedding day was a sign of bad luck, as pearls looked like tears, so that people believed that the bride weep throughout their marriage.
The faithful Roman Catholic can through their local bishops, send the request to the Pope blessed thanks for the anniversary of their wedding in the years especially (as in the 25th, 50th, 60th .. ) .
In the Commonwealth, a couple can request a Greetings in writing from the British monarch to celebrate their wedding on 60th, 65th, 70th anniversaries.
Many traditions are specific to different countries. For example, in East Westphalia and Northern Germany it is customary for the friends and family of the couple to celebrate their 12½ year anniversary by giving them a parsley bouquet. A surprise celebration may involve a barbecue and a beer garden. Also very popular is to wake the couple out of bed and have a breakfast ready for them at the door.
Not all German wedding anniversary traditions are good natured. For example, in Northern Germany it is traditional for friends and family to celebrate the 5 year anniversary that has not produced children as a "bullock wedding" which often also has mocking names such as "cream puffs" or "rubber wedding." Also in Germany, a Thirty Year Anniversary is jokingly called a "Mercenary Marriage" in reference to the Thirty Years War.Next: Anniversary Traditions in China and Japan.