Although it may seem like a modern invention—much as Valentine’s Day is allegedly a racket concocted by greeting card companies to, well, sell more greeting cards—the custom of giving special gifts to commemorate one’s wedding anniversary has, in fact, been traced to years gone by. We’re talking long, long ago, way back to the era of the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands first began to bestow silver wreaths upon their wives in honor of their 25th year together, with golden wreaths reserved for their 50th.
So where’d we get the “traditional” year-by-year list of anniversary gifts? It’s a bit of a mystery. (And if you’d rather get a head start on your shopping than read about any more gift-giving history, click here.) Although the Victorians likely expanded a bit upon the practice, by 1937, only eight anniversaries were considered indispensable gift-giving occasions: the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th. We do know that that year, the American National Retail Jewelers’ Association released a new, more comprehensive list of anniversary gifts by year, now known as the “modern” list, identifying a unique material to confer upon your sweetheart for each year through the first 25 and for every fifth year after that, extending all the way through to the lofty milestone of the 90th anniversary.
While we’re hardly slaves to tradition—heck, “uncommon” is half of our brand name—we here at UncommonGoods thought it a worthy challenge to make our way through the traditional list of anniversary gifts by year and select some of our most uncommon offerings for each, all the way up to the big 5-0. First up: the first anniversary, customarily marked by the giving of gifts made of paper.