Gift-giving has always been a hugely personal thing for my family and me. When I began the ever-important task of shopping for my first wedding anniversary, I came across a list that suggested what I should get my partner for each year we were together. I fell down a rabbit hole of gift guides that left me with a couple of questions: Is getting a gift that sticks to tradition important? And the even bigger question: Why do anniversaries have themes in the first place?
History of Anniversary Themes
The short and sweet of what I found is that a much older European tradition of a husband offering his wife a silver wreath after a few decades of marriage and a gold wreath after many more has been adapted by each generation into what we know today. As gift-giving became more focused on buying something for a partner, the list of what was socially expected grew to cover more anniversaries and, in turn, more purchases. The list we know today came about in 1937 from the modern-day Jewelers of America. It gives a theme to each of the first fifteen years of marriage and every five years afterward, up until the 60th anniversary.
Why It Matters Today
In the end, it’s up to y’all to decide if adhering to some sort of tradition matters to you. Wearing a white wedding gown is in itself a symbolic tradition, so for most people, tradition has already played a part in their marriages. Following the traditional list can mean taking part in the same traditions older family members did on their anniversaries.
Even if they have no family ties to the anniversary gift themes, this list also just makes it easier for people who have a difficult time buying presents for their spouses. With the expectations already laid out, people can more easily deal with the confusion over what to buy and the guilt over what to spend.
Gift-Giving According to Themes
Luckily for folks who don’t adore expensive jewelry, modern adaptations of the list take a more practical approach to these anniversary gifts with themes such as clocks, silverware, and lace. Embroidery or etching adds a personal touch to even obtuse gifts. Handmade items are also immensely meaningful to creative types, whether they’re purchased from local vendors or made by the recipient.
Whether you’re looking for first or fifteenth anniversary gifts, knowing why anniversaries have themes can help you decide if they fit your relationship. Like almost everything else when it comes to marriage, it boils right down to communication. Ask yourself what works for you and whether the idea of sticking to this tradition seems fun or fitting. Ultimately, your anniversary is a celebration of both of you and the passion, commitment, and adoration that makes your relationship work.
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