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Anniversary Celebrations

An anniversary is commonly associated with weddings. Married persons who regard the date of their marriage as important may mark the yearly date of their wedding in some special way.

Broader groups in society, especially the families, and even more especially the children of such a couple, may help to celebrate such occasions; this is particularly common on the 40th, 50th, and 60th annivs.

Retailers (especially jewellers), sensing a profit opportunity, have encouraged gift-giving on such special days, and may often suggest a hierarchy of types of gifts to reflect the importance of longer years of marriage (and perhaps of greater ability to purchase more expensive gifts).


What is an Anniversary?

An anniversary (from the Latin anniversarius, from the words for year and to turn, meaning (re)turning yearly; known in English since c1230) is a day that commemorates and/or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event. For example, the first event is the initial occurrence or, if planned, the inaugural of the event; 365 days (plus a possible leap day) or one year later, would be the first anniversary of that event. The word 'anniversary' was first used for the Christan feasts to commemorate the saints.


Birthdays are the most common type of anniversary, where the birth date of a person is commemorated. The actual celebration is sometimes moved for practical reasons, as in the case of an official birthday

A Wedding anniversary is also often celebrated on the same day of the year as the wedding occurred.

The Latin word dies natalis (literally birth day) has become a common term, adopted in all languages, especially in intellectual and institutional circles, for the anniversary of the founding ('legal or statutory birth') of an institution, such as an alma mater (college or other school). Even in ancient Rome, we know of the [dies] Aquilae natalis ('birthday of the eagle', anniversary of the official founding of a legion).

Most countries around the world celebrate their national anniversary, for example the United States Centennial. These can be the date of independence of the nation or the adoption of a new constitution or form of government.

Anniversaries of nations are usually given by the number of years elapsed in Latin words or Roman numerals.

Anniversary Symbols

Many anniversaries have special names. Generally speaking the longer the period, the more precious and/or durable the material associated with it.

1 year is paper
2 years is cotton
3 years is leather
4 years is linen
5 years is wood
6 years is iron
7 years is wool
8 years is bronze
9 years is copper
10 years is tin (or aluminium)
11 years is steel
12 years is silk
13 years is lace
14 years is ivory
15 years is crystal
20 years is china (porcelain)
25 years is a Silver Jubilee or silver wedding
30 years is pearl
35 years is coral (or jade)
40 years is ruby
45 years is sapphire
50 years is Golden Jubilee - not to be confused with the 'golden birthday'(not at a fixed age)
55 years is emerald
60 years is a Diamond Jubilee
65 years is a Blue Sapphire
70 years is a Platinum Jubilee.
75 years is a Diamond wedding
80 years is an Oak wedding

There may exist variations in national traditions.

Furthermore, there exist rather confusingly only partially overlapping, partially contradictory lists of anniversary gifts (such as wedding stones), separate from the 'traditional' names.

The concepts of a person's birthday stone, birth stone and zodiac stone, by contrast, are fixed for life according to the day of the week, month or astrological sign corresponding to the recipient's birthday.


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