Wedding anniversary gifts
7th Jul 2014

Wedding anniversary gifts by year

The tradition of giving specific anniversary gifts based on the number of years a couple has been married dates back to the Middle Ages. Originally the gifts were designed to bring luck to the couple.

The gift for each landmark anniversary has its own material and symbolic value with gifts gradually increasing in substance and value the longer the couple have been married. The order of gifts reflects the investment that the couple gives of themselves to each other. In Germanic middle Europe during the Middle Ages, the husband would present his spouse with a silver garland to mark the 25th wedding anniversary and a gold one for the 50th. Hence silver and golden wedding anniversaries were born.

The logic of presenting gifts was that stability deserves a reward and more the stability the greater should be the reward. The following list was common to most nations: 


  • 5th Wooden
  • 10th Tin
  • 15th Crystal
  • 20th China
  • 25th Silver
  • 30th Pearl
  • 40th Ruby
  • 50th Gold
  • 60th Diamond

Traditionally 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.

Although no one is certain how the traditional list of symbolic anniversary gifts originated, it is likely that the Victorians made the custom popular. Early anniversary symbolism included only a few of the anniversaries we recognize today

The symbols have changed over time. For example in the United Kingdom, diamond was a well- known symbol for the 75th anniversary, but this changed to the now more common 60th anniversary after Queen Victoria's 60 years on the throne was widely marked as her Diamond Jubilee.

 Later, principally in the twentieth century, commercialism led to the addition of more anniversaries being represented by a named gift.

By middle-to-late 1930s, people began to celebrate 1st, 10th, 20th, 25th, 50th and 70th anniversary. A gift for each of these milestone anniversary years was also decided by the society. In some countries a message from the government, president or Monarch can be arranged for couples celebrating anniversaries of over 50 years.

Today in the States the wedding anniversary symbols begin simply, with paper and flowers and increase in value as the anniversaries go by up to diamonds for the 60th.

Today our principally celebrated anniversaries are:

  • 25th silver
  • 30th pearl
  • 40th ruby
  • 50th golden
  • 60th diamond

Commercially, an extensive array of anniversary gifts and greeting cards can be found to mark these occasions both in the High Street and on the internet.

What did you give your husband or wife on your last anniversary? How did you celebrate? Did you remember? How important do you feel it is to mark your anniversary? Is it just for the couple to celebrate or for the families of the couple to give gifts too? 

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