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Celebrating marriage: Anniversary gifts and traditions

Oct 18, 2011, 4:56 p.m.

Celebrating marriage can be a beautiful thing, no matter how long it has been since you took your vows. Depending on where you're from and the culture in which you find yourself living, there are different gifts and traditions you might be involved in or want to explore for your anniversary.

The first anniversary

Traditionally, paper of some kind is given for the first anniversary. Books, stationery, and photographs (with or without frames) were common choices. Now, a more modern option is to give the couple a clock. Cuckoo and antique clocks are popular, but modern wall clocks and alarm clocks can also be good choices.

One of the few popular first anniversary traditions is to eat the top layer of the wedding cake. That layer is usually removed from the cake and placed into the freezer on wedding day, so it can be eaten when the couple has been married for a year.

The 25th anniversary

The 25th wedding anniversary is known traditionally as the Silver Anniversary, and it is still common today to give gifts made of silver to your spouse. Couples may give each other jewelry or engraved items made from silver—but those outside the marriage are also welcomed to participate in the celebration by giving silver.

The 25th wedding anniversary is more than just gifts, though. There are also traditions that some people incorporate into their celebrations. For example, Roman Catholic couples can ask for a papal blessing for any anniversary of a special nature, such as the 25th or 50th.

The 50th anniversary

There are even more traditions associated with the 50th anniversary than there are for the 25th. Most people give gold for the 50th wedding anniversary, which is still generally called the Golden Anniversary.

In Canada, couples can receive a message from the Governor General. In Australia, 50th wedding anniversaries include greetings and best wishes from other important individuals, such as the prime minister. The president will send greetings and best wishes to anyone who has reached their 50th wedding anniversary in the United States, provided a request to receive that has been made.

Other anniversary traditions

Families can also start their own traditions when it comes to gifts and the ways in which anniversaries are celebrated. Families that cross cultural or religious backgrounds may want to develop traditions that speak to both of their ancestries in order to feel like they've recognized their heritage on their special day. Anniversaries are important occasions that ultimately should be marked by the couple in the way they see fit and feel good about.

You can use a complete list of gifts for anniversaries in order to find great gifts for anyone, no matter how long they've been married.

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