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A History Of The Wedding Anniversary Gift And Why Anniversaries Are Important

Happy Little Vows is essentially about wedding anniversaries and the love stories behind them. There are many people out there who love celebrating the anniversary of their marriage and others who do not, everyone is different. Personally, I adore anniversaries. Celebrating my union with my love is something that excites me and connects us in our own unique and special way, and I know I'm not alone in that feeling. So I thought I would write a bit about how the world came to have anniversaries, the history, why we celebrate with gifts and why anniversaries are important.

So first, why are anniversaries important?

Your anniversary is a celebration of love. The word anniversary in french, anniversaire, is the same for both wedding anniversary and birthday and in the same vain of celebrating your birth into this world, your anniversary celebrates your birth of union as a couple. Only 35% of people ever make it to their 25th wedding anniversary and even less, 6%, make it to their 50th anniversary, mainly due to couples tying the knot much later than they used to. So it stands to reason that every single year should be celebrated. Celebrating these anniversary milestones strengthens your relationship as you show your other half appreciation for their partnership.

Why do we buy wedding anniversary gifts? A history.

In the past, wedding anniversaries were built around symbology, showcasing progressive strengthening of the relationship. To do so, they presented gifts to show their investment towards one another in their marriage - a practice we still do today.

Wedding anniversary origins date back to the Roman Empire. For their 25th year together, the husband would crown their wife with a silver wreath and for their 50th anniversary, a gold wreath. This was the beginning of the Anniversary Gifts By Year we have today where the 25th year is still silver and the 50th is still gold. This practice of crowning the silver and gold wreaths continued through history, with medieval Germany taking over the tradition.

But it wasn't until the Victorian Era that the tradition of anniversary gifts was kicked up a notch when Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee was marked as her Diamond Jubilee and the diamond (which previously had symbolized the 75th year) became the symbol for the 60th wedding anniversary. And so symbolic anniversary gifts became the norm, so much so, that by the 20th century it was common practice for couples to celebrate their wedding anniversaries by giving one another themed gifts.

The biggest breakthrough for themed anniversary gifts though was when Emily Post published her Blue Book of Social Usage in 1922. In the book, Post listed the eight wedding anniversaries everyone must know, namely the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th and 75th anniversaries. The latter would be moved to 60th in time for a more accessible anniversary.

Twentieth century commercialism was a big driver in the promotion of the themed anniversary gift giving, adding represented named gifts to the anniversary years. And in 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association, now known as Jewelers of America, saw how they could take advantage of this trend and assist in creating good quality, high end gifts for the lovers to give. So they introduced an extended list of themed anniversary years, giving an allocated gift theme for each year up to the 25th and then five year intervals after that in what is now known as the Traditional Anniversary Gifts. Modern gift themes were added over the years to keep up with the times so that now we have two types of anniversary themed gift ideas for each year, traditional and modern, to choose from. The modern list is more practical and the traditional list (based on Victorian era) is more symbolic. In addition to these allocated themed gifts, there are also colors, flowers and jewelry designated to each anniversary year.

Check out Anniversary Gifts by Year and Anniversary Flowers By Year for traditional, modern and floral anniversary gift ideas on Happy Little Vows.

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