Years ago, when I was still back in England, two friends of mine were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. It was getting close to the big day and my ex wife and I had thoughtfully bought them presents that included a CD of hits from the year they were married. As we sat drinking the bottle of red that was also in the gift, he put the CD on and we sat chatting. After about half an hour he suddenly said, You know this track wasn’t the year we were married it was the year after”. We discussed it and decided that there was a mistake somewhere. Perhaps it was released in December and didn’t chart until the New Year, I helpfully proffered. Then there was a second debatable track and a third. We carried on chatting and my mate left the room, only to return five minutes later brandishing their marriage licence. “Err, it appears that we have only been married 24 years”, he announced to a dumbfounded room. And so it was that a legend was born. They were never allowed to forget it.
Recalling this tale got me thinking about the names of wedding anniversaries and it appears that there is a huge difference in attitude as to the way in these things are viewed in the UK as apposed to the USA. Being a tradition lot, we still go with the old fashioned ideas of paper on the first one and cotton on the second. And so on and so forth. In America they now have a new list, the first year is tradition celebrated by the man giving his wife a clock and the second china. By that I am assuming they mean crockery and not the People’s Republic.
By the third year Britain is only onto leather whilst our cousins from over the Atlantic have moved on to crystal glass. Not only is ours cheaper, but it looks a lot better in the bedroom. By year four we romantically move on to fruit and / or flowers. Your average American housewife is to expect kitchen appliances. Not romantic is it, and what has she been using for the last four years?
And it goes on and on. Seven years is wool in England and a desk or pen and pencil set in America. Not until we have a meeting of the mind after twenty-five years, where we all give silver, is there any parity. In that time England has gone through willow, tin, silk, lace and crystal whereas American women have built up a collection of diamond jewellery, pearl necklaces (plenty of British women get that on the first date), furs, watches, furniture and bizarrely on the 24th year, musical instruments.
From thence forward it appears to be very similar. Right up to the big ones of 50 – Gold, 60 – Diamond and 75 diamond gold. After 85 years of married life it is traditional for the wife to receive a gift of her birthstone. Whereas the husband simply gets a medal.