The Tradition of Anniversary Gifts

The Tradition of Anniversary Gifts


A few months ago, a customer asked me to do a silk painting as a special gift for her twelfth wedding anniversary traditionally something in silk or linen.

I did a silk painting of the voyage to represent the journey of life that the couple had been through together.  


This got me thinking though is there a different gift for each year and when did all this start.

I suppose I would have heard of paper for a first anniversary and then Silver, Ruby, and gold anniversaries. These are the big milestones that people generally observe.

But who started marking these anniversaries with a gift?

The idea of giving specific gifts seems to have started in 18th century Germany the tradition of friends giving a silver wreath made from silver (silberne Hoch zef) to the wife on her 25th anniversary and a gold wreath for the 50th anniversary this was to say well done on staying together for so long.

Silver symbolised the harmony that was needed to make so many years of matrimony possible.

In the Victorian era couples were starting to get married for love and some conservative types found this puzzling and they wondered how people were to be motivated into marriage and stay married if love was the main reason.

This was the start of emphasising on building a love commitment.

So, with each year a gift to reward the couple for staying married.

Giving paper is symbolic in different ways it’s a clean slate to write a future, its delicate and still new the couple have not experienced many trials.


Wood is traditional for five years and denotes the long-lasting nature of their commitment.

Gold represents prosperity and strength it is beautiful strong and resistant to corrosion.

The interwoven threads of silk or linen symbolises how their relationship has strengthened and after twelve years they find married life to be smoother than ever I do hope this is true.


In Denmark after Twelve and a half years the family and friends of the couple build half an arch from spruce decorated with flowers and lights for the front door and they get the other half on their Twenty Fifth

I suppose the cynic might say commercial enterprise is behind all this yearly gift and card giving it probably is a big part, but I think each anniversary is an achievement and should be celebrated in some small way.


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