What Is the Meaning of Golden Wedding Anniversary?

Updated February 21, 2017

A golden, or 50th, wedding anniversary is a celebration of a life spent together and great things accomplished with love and commitment. It is given great honour; a golden wedding anniversary should be marked with memorable gifts and celebrations.


A 50th wedding anniversary is called "golden" because an ancient tradition was for a husband to give his wife a golden wreath, garland or necklace on their 50th anniversary. The origin of this tradition is Northern European, probably Germanic or Scandinavian, and dates back to the earliest written historical references available.


A 50th anniversary in a marriage is a rare occasion, and marks a half-century of togetherness, commitment and strength. To honour the couple, you can request a personal greeting from the President, who will send a card to any couple celebrating a golden wedding anniversary. See the Resources section.


Anniversary celebrations generally should be held within a month of the actual anniversary date. They are traditionally organised by the couple's children; if there are none, close friends may throw the party. It is good to allow the couple as many choices about the event as possible, and it is not unheard of for the couple to throw their own party.


The traditional gift between spouses at a golden wedding anniversary is, of course, gold. That can mean jewellery, cufflinks, a gold box or photo frame, a ring, or even something gold-themed like a vacation to a place with "Gold" in its name, such as Australia's Gold Coast, California, the "Golden" state or the "Golden Valley" of Limerick, Ireland.


A couple celebrating 50 years of marriage is likely to be approaching old age, if not already elderly. When planning celebrations and honouring the pair, be sensitive to their limitations; for instance, don't gift plane tickets to a couple who is not medically able to handle air travel.

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About the Author

Kim Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University.