Many wedding anniversaries mark important milestones. The first is always special, and very often the couple still have something of the honeymoon about them as they reach one year of marriage. We tend to measure significant periods of time in multiples of five, so the fifth anniversary may also be deemed of more importance than at least three of the four preceding it. A decade of marriage is the first of the ‘big’ celebrations, and from here onwards the key anniversaries tend to be marked with wider family and friends, whereas before this a couple may receive cards but the marking of the day is really their own. To be married 25, 40, 50, 60 and even 70 years or more is a big deal.
Just as 25 years’ marriage became associated with silver through a medieval German tradition of presenting the wife with a silver wreath, the 50th was marked with the presentation of a gold wreath. Gold, while being a soft, malleable metal, is also long-lasting. It doesn’t go rusty or oxidize in the air, and is one of the least reactive of the metallic elements. This sense of permanence and an unchanging nature is why it is traditionally used in wedding rings, to symbolize an eternal union.
Silver anniversaries at 25 years may be marked with a renewal of vows, a large party for family and friends, a second honeymoon or holiday of a lifetime, or indeed all of the above. The same goes for the golden wedding. However, by this time in a couples’ life they may also have everything they already want or need. Gifts, therefore, become more of a challenge.
1. The Gift
The eternity ring is a traditional piece of jewellery for couples to exchange for their Golden Wedding Anniversary. It goes with the symbolism of the occasion, honours the longevity of the marriage, and promises similar for the future.
Gifts to a couple quite frequently look back on this anniversary. Nostalgic gifts from the year they married such as a copy of a newspaper from the day itself, albums that were popular at the time, or a collage of photographs of the couple over the years are all lovely keepsakes and reminders. A vintage bottle of wine could be a particularly special treat. There is also a type of rose called Golden Wedding which would make a beautiful permanent reminder and tribute in a couples’ garden. It is a yellow rose, which is also the flower associated with the 50th wedding anniversary.
For US residents, it is possible to arrange a greeting from the President to mark a golden wedding. In both Canada and Australia, a message can be arranged from their respective Governors General and, in Australia, from the Prime Minister. Roman Catholics can receive a papal blessing for their 50th wedding anniversary, arranged through their local diocese.
2. The Celebration
In many cases, by the time a couple marks their Golden Wedding anniversary there are several generations to mark the event. If they have had children then there may be grandchildren or even great-grandchildren as well. What better excuse for the whole family to gather together? With busy lives and very often geographically dispersed, it can be difficult for all members of a large family to get together at the same time. The date would need to be booked well in advance to ensure it was in diaries, travel arrangements made, and accommodation booked if needed.
A whole family gathering is also an opportunity for a whole family portrait. Book a professional photographer to capture images of the celebration. This will be a wonderful memento for everyone, not just the happy couple.
3. The Holiday
For gold-related holiday destinations, how about a Nile cruise? In ancient times, Nubia was a major gold-producing area. It was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan and was centred on the Nile. The ancient Egyptians considered gold to be virtually divine as a representation of the sun and used a lot of it for religious purposes. Funerary art such as the gilded mask of Tutankhamen was made of painted gold. A Nile cruise to take in the treasures of Egypt such as the Pyramids and the Sphinx could be a holiday of a lifetime.
South Africa is a hugely significant producer of gold. It is calculated that over 50% of all the gold ever produced has come from South Africa. With many locations to choose from, South Africa can provide any sort of holiday you could wish for. However, it is Johannesburg which is known as the City of Gold. It was founded in 1886 as a result of the Witwatersrand Gold Rush. Johannesburg would be an ideal base for a safari holiday. The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is only 45 minutes away, and as well as the obvious lions and rhinos there are over 200 bird species that can be seen in the reserve.
Celebrating a golden wedding is a chance for reminiscing about the past, gathering of the family, and building more memories. Take time to make it special.