The names of anniversaries were to provide guidance to the spouses to give each other gifts; if there is a party the items can be brought by the guests or influence the theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but the most common are:  5th Wooden, 10th Tin, 15th Crystal, 20th China, 25th Silver, 30th Pearl, 40th Ruby, 50th Gold and 60th Diamond.

The tradition may have originated in medieval Germany where, if a married couple lived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their wedding, the wife was presented with a silver wreath to congratulate them for the good fortune that had prolonged the lives of the couple for so many years. On celebration of the 50th, the wife received a wreath of gold.

Over time the number of symbols expanded and the German tradition came to assign gifts that had direct connections with each stage of married life. The symbols have changed over time. For example in the United Kingdom, diamond was a well known symbol for the 75th anniversary, but this changed to the now more common 60th anniversary after Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne was widely marked as her Diamond Jubilee.

The origins of the current gift conventions date to 1937. Before that, only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries had an associated gift.

Lists of wedding anniversary gifts vary by country. 

Year

1st   Paper

2nd  Cotton

3rd   Leather

4th   Linen

5th   Wood

6th   Iron

7th   Wool

8th   Bronze

9th   Pottery

10th Tin

11th Steel

12th Silk

13th Lace

14th Ivory

15th Crystal

20th China

24th Opal

25th Silver

30th Pearl

35th Coral

40th Ruby

45th Sapphire

50th Gold

55th Emerald

60th Diamond

65th Blue sapphire

70th Platinum

75th Diamond or Gold

80th Oak

85th Wine