Although there are traditional and modern lists of gifts to give on a wedding anniversary, one of the anniversaries these lists have in common is the 25th wedding anniversary, known throughout the western world as the Silver Wedding Anniversary.
But how did the custom of giving a silver gift as a commemoration of 25-years of marriage begin and where did it start?
Most researchers say that the custom started at some unknown time in Middle Europe. In the Germanic region it was the custom for the husband to give his wife a wreath of silver too celebrate the anniversary. It’s unlikely that it would have been real silver, so perhaps it gained the name from white flowers in the wreath or even ribbons adorning it.
Wreaths have been used as ornamental headdresses since Roman times; made from flowers, laurels and thread they were worn on special occasions and especially at weddings. So it’s quite possible that the presentation of a silver wreath goes back 2,000 years.
The use of evergreen, such as laurels, in a wreath is a symbol for the strength of life and survival as these plants can endure harsh winters. So it could be that the wreath was symbolic of the marriage surviving the ups and downs of 25-years together.
In Germany the gift of Chrysanthemums is also associated with Silver Weddings, but as these flowers didn’t arrive in Europe until the 17th century, and as the original blooms had a golden colour, mediaeval Germans wouldn’t have been using them to decorate headdresses. Certainly 120 years ago the concept of the German silberhochzeit was unknown in England and it didn’t become so until the late Victorian period. In North America, German immigrants may have introduced it earlier.
So given it’s history what silver gifts can you give for a silver wedding and, other than the husband presenting his wife with a gift, who else can give a present?
Husbands can find all manner of silver gifts to give their wife, including silver jewellery such as silver bracelets. Wives can reciprocate with silver cufflinks monogrammed with engraved initials and perhaps a short message of affection.
If friends and family give presents, gifts such as silver candle holders, wine coasters, napkin rings and silver salt and pepper mills will be appreciated by couples who like to have an elegant dining table and enjoy entertaining at home.
All of these gifts will be hallmarked if they are sterling silver and can be engraved with the names of the couple and perhaps the date of the anniversary to remember the happy day.