There is an interesting archetype in almost all human cultures that numbers that are divisible by five have greater significance than the ones that are not. Take wedding anniversaries, for example. When the years of a marriage’s duration end in either zero or five, couples tend to have larger celebrations. These anniversaries are considered “milestones” and are strongly associated in the collective consciousness with particular gifts.
You may already know the traditional gifts for the biggest milestone anniversaries. For example, people give gold jewelry gifts for the 50-year “golden” anniversary, silver flatware for the 25th. Diamonds represent a 60th anniversary, hence the Queen of England’s “Diamond Jubilee,” which was the celebration of her 60th year as monarch. As a matter of fact, every year has a traditional anniversary gift of a particular material attached to it. It is a tradition that dates back to medieval times, and the idea is that each year that a marriage endures, it becomes stronger. Thus, traditional gifts for the early anniversary have little intrinsic value, but the material from which the gifts are to be made become stronger and more precious with time.
From a certain point of view, every anniversary is a milestone. Here are the traditional anniversary gifts for some of the other years.
Iron and Steel
Iron and steel are traditional gifts for the sixth and 11th anniversaries, respectively. Iron is one of the strongest naturally occurring metals on Earth. Steel is an alloy made by combining iron with other metals. Steel is stronger than iron, which explains why it is given five years after the iron anniversary.
Cotton and Wool
Cotton is the traditional second anniversary present, while wool is traditional for the seventh. Cotton is made of interwoven threads that symbolize the lives of you and your spouse becoming entwined with one another. Wool symbolizes the warmth of your romantic love.
Flowers or Fruit
While many married people may give or receive bouquets of flowers as an anniversary gift every year, it is traditionally for the fourth anniversary. Another traditional alternative is fruit. Fruit and flowers represent a maturation. The implication is that by this time your relationship has fully bloomed and your relationship is now mature.
Lace, Silk, or Linen
Lace is the traditional 13th anniversary gift, while silk or linen is given for the 12th. Lace is beautiful and appears delicate but is actually very strong. Silk and linen are luxurious materials common in home decorations. They also represent prosperity.
There’s no rule that says you have to give anniversary gifts of the traditional material. However, given the symbolism associated with each, it can make each anniversary extra romantic if you do.