The Translation of Wedding anniversaries: love and money
Although people have been celebrating wedding anniversaries for several centuries, they became especially popular in the 19th century. Several industries latched onto this tradition and tried to make more money out of it by inventing new anniversaries and connecting them with additional gifts.
The translation of wedding anniversaries into gifts of ever greater symbolic and pecuniary value whet petty bourgeois’ appetites before the days of the modern middle class were even remotely conceivable.
What at first may have seemed a mere commercial excrescence, some shameless ploy, has in fact become compulsory practice, a way of expressing feelings which, if ignored, can have disastrous effects. Just like most other celebrations, wedding anniversaries hence resemble the meeting place of what one might initially consider as opposing dynamics.
Translating wedding anniversaries into gifts: social scales
The connection of wedding anniversaries with gifts as an outward translation of the intimate has also become a necessary condition for evaluating the depth of couples’ feelings and the social significance of their relationship.
Admittedly, to evaluate is to compare, is to establish a scale, but when considering things as weighty as love, numbers no longer suffice (be they days on calendars, balances in bank accounts or anything else besides). These precious marriages are hence embodied by gifts which, picked from nature’s store of treasures, pepper the celebrated relationships with its apparent everlasting permanence.
The translation of painstaking mellowing
Society, by weighing the intimate against the rhythms of nature, sees it as ever-maturing, just like the well-known cases of fruit and wine. Relationships are perceived as ever-growing and deepening. The most surprising part in this process is its slow-pace, the patience it demands, an energy diametrically opposed to the one upset by the very first glimmers of old-age. It’s a potentially soothing walk in an age of rush-hour weeks of racing about.
The Translation of Wedding anniversaries: meaning over exactitude
The translation of wedding anniversaries, albeit generally based on the same gifts, can nevertheless depart from them as their position compared to the others on a symbolic scale is of greater significance than their actual nature. This goes to explain why there are small differences between the lists of gifts (concerning the year connected to paper for example) and even between the dates of the celebrations themselves (should anniversaries be counted in six-month or sometimes even four-month periods?).
Hence, in France, the gift connected to people’s first wedding anniversary is cotton, whereas in the English-speaking world it’s paper . It’ll be interesting to keep track of this tradition over the coming years if the interest sparked by marriage continues to wane.
Photo credits and sources
 – Agence Tophos, Sarah & Jonathan (Flickr)
 – Lavender: the gift connected with the 46th wedding anniversary in France (webpage in French, a Mytranslation language): photo by Sascha Kohlmann (Flickr)
 – Chiu Ho-yang, “Rushing crowds” (Flickr)
 – Happy-anniversary.com: Anniversary gifts per year
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