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History of Wedding Anniversaries

Anniversaries have been celebrated effectively since the year after the wedding ceremony was invented and  references can be found in records stretching back centuries.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens cites a celebration for an 8th wedding Anniversary in Chapter 14 (June 1838) highlighting the fact that not only were the major jubilees celebrated but also the other years.

The earliest reference in printed form we have found to a Wedding Anniversary  having a symbol associated with it is from The Morning Chronicle Issue No 17572 published in 1825 this refers to Karl August the Grand Duke of the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach region and his wife Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt who had married on 3rd October 1775 and celebrated 50 years of marriage in 1825.

The earliest reference to the Silver Wedding we have found is in The Era first published on Sunday 29th December 1839.

Our favourite reference is from The Belfast Newsletters Issue No.11797 originally printed 27th October 1852;  and recounts the writer finding a Golden Wedding celebration ongoing whilst he walked the streets of a German town.

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When is a Wedding Anniversary not an Anniversary?

The earliest known references to celebrations for wedding anniversaries which have symbols associated within them we have found to date are to the Silver Wedding (25 years of marriage) and Golden Wedding (50th Wedding Anniversary).

Originating in the middle of Europe (Germany/Austrian Region) they involved the husband giving his wife a silver garland when they had been married for 25 years and a Gold garland when they had been married for 50 years.

One of the noteworthy things from the above is that the celebrations were termed the Silver Wedding and Golden Wedding with no reference to anniversary hence when celebrating any wedding anniversary that has a symbol associated with, it is appropriate to just call it by the material then wedding e.g. Silver Wedding for the 25th or Paper Wedding for the 1st Anniversary.

Thus, when people refer to the Golden Wedding Anniversary they are technically talking about a subsequent year after the event e.g. the anniversary of the Golden Wedding!

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What do you call the 80th Anniversary?

We’ve been continuing our investigations into what each Wedding Anniversary is called and why, we’ve noticed that Wikipedia have an entry stating that the 80th Anniversary is the Oak Anniversary.

Now we’ve got to say this just seems to be wrong! You’ve been married 80 years, you’ve celebrated your Silver, Golden, Ruby and Diamond Anniversaries and the next Anniversary you’ve to look forward to is Oak, sorry I don’t agree.

We’ve been looking into the references that they mention and it is basically one website (OK it’s the Royal Website) but it is just one site that mentions Oak and when it does it is almost a throw away comment so again Wikipedia has very shaky references.

We emailed the editor of the Royal Web site to see if they could provide further evidence of how and why they believe the Anniversary should be called the Oak Anniversary. They’ve not come back to us yet and that was over a month ago so I suspect we will not get a response until they read a post like this!

So should being married for 80 years be associated with Oak, personally I don’t think so, if anything such a celebration should be given a symbol that has more gravitas.

Our personal favourite is Palladium

Why is this our favourite, well its quite easy really; Palladium is one of the newest precious metals known, given that we now live longer and people are more likely to live long enough to celebrate their 80th Anniversary  then these are effectively new events and hence the two match each other well on this fact. Palladium is also relatively rare such as 80th Anniversaries are and hence again they naturally match each other.

Who knows as we all live longer there may be a call to give the 90th Anniversary a name perhaps by then we could use Unobtainium as the symbol!

What do you think, should we use Palladium as the symbol for the 80th Anniversary? Leave a comment to join in the conversation.