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Wedding Anniversaries!

Their history and traditions

Anniversary TraditionsYou have to believe that there are some unfortunates out there who recently forgot an anniversary. If you're hoping that this article will give you the answer on how to fix the mess that caused, give up!

You'll notice there are belated birthday cards, but no one has ever been foolish enough to produce a belated anniversary card. No amount of "Sorry" can make it better. You may be under the impression that anniversaries are celebrated just to cause misery to the poor souls who dare to forget them... but that's not how it happened at all...

History of Anniversary Celebrations
From the dawn of humanity, when Homo Sapiens first began walking upright, they have always been a group of dedicated party animals. Life was hard in those days, what with fighting off cave bears and saber toothed tigers. The Ice Age made modern winters look silly. Food was hard to come by. There was no such thing as walking down to the market. It was a rough existence. Any excuse for a celebration was welcome.

If the fish were biting and there was a good catch... a fish food party! If hunters managed to bring home a woolly mammoth so the tribe could eat for a while? Yes...a mammoth party! The problem with those types of parties was that you could go for a very long time between good feasts. There had to be an excuse for celebrations, even during the lean times.

That's when the cave social director decided that annual events were a good cause for celebration. They started by celebrating big events, like the beginning and end of the nicer weather—what we now call Easter and Thanksgiving. Holidays like that were reliable, but there weren't too many of them. There had to be other reasons to celebrate that occurred more often. So, birthdays and anniversaries joined the list of holidays.

Of course, anniversaries were a little easier to remember when they were first introduced as a party theme, because most groups didn't have individual ceremonies. They'd have a big get together and pair off the eligible bachelors with the young unmarried ladies once or twice a year. No one ever forgot the dates and the anniversary party idea was a great hit with everyone. That changed when individual marriage ceremonies began. The anniversary celebration, as we know it, was born. It was probably very soon after when the first husband forgot his anniversary, but by then the tradition was established and it was too late to turn back

Traditional Gifts for Anniversaries
How did anniversaries turn from a good excuse to have a party to a formal gift giving occasion?

Society has always been concerned with making rules, with social structure. In prehistoric times the rules were pretty basic. They had to do with survival. Social etiquette was based on the need to get along as a group and catch those fish and mammoths. As life became easier the population expanded. People began to use machines and move to cities and towns. With all those people crowded together, there had to be rules for getting along. That's when modern etiquette was born.

In 1922 the queen of proper modern etiquette, Mrs. Emily Post, wrote that only eight anniversaries required traditional gifts. But there are records from as early as the mid 1800s that show the "modern" list had expanded to include the first fifteen years and every five years after that from the 20th to the 60th, and the 75th. Why the 65th and 70th anniversaries are not included is shrouded in the mists of social history, but many suspect it was to give the husbands a break.

Today, there is a maze of official and unofficial anniversary etiquette, and many anniversary gift lists by year of "proper" anniversary gifts. They include the traditional gift list approved by Mrs. Post, along with a modern list, another from the jewelry industry and another list of flowers for each year. It seems that every industry involved may soon be adding a list of approved gifts. There could be an approved candy list, with kisses for the first anniversary or maybe those little candy hearts with sweet sayings printed on them. It can work up to truffles for the 75th! Then there's lingerie, beauty products, travel... each could come up with an approved list and take all of the worry out of anniversary gift giving!

The most important lesson to be learned from the history of anniversaries is that they started out as a reason to celebrate and relieve the stress of daily life. They are a way to remember and rekindle those feelings that made you decide to get married in the first place. So, if you did forget... skip the apologies, go straight to the "I love you" and mark it on your calendar for next year.


For More Traditional Histories See These Related Sites:

Traditional Anniversary Gifts list

History of Traditional Anniversary Gifts

 

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