Earlier this month my daughter celebrated her first wedding anniversary – how time flies it really a year ago we were stressing about dresses, flowers, marquees, and my father-of-the-bride speech? Thankfully, all went well, and here we are a year later with my only concern being what to get my daughter and son-in-law for an anniversary present. My suggestion of a piece of paper as the traditional first-anniversary present didn’t go down too well, so I had to go back to the drawing board. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about why paper is associated with a couple’s first anniversary.
The tradition dates back to the Victorian era and there are lots of theories as to the symbolism at play here. For instance, paper serves as a reminder that a couple is writing the story of their lives together. Marriage starts as a blank canvas with the pages being progressively filled with new experiences, emotions, and accomplishments; with the first anniversary marking the completion of the first chapter in that adventure.
Also, paper is highly tied to the natural world. It can be made from trees, bamboo, cotton, or plants. Even the largest trees grow and flourish from a small seed, and they don’t grow tall and strong overnight – it takes time growing through the warmth of summer and the cold of winter. The same is true of a marriage. It too takes time to grow and mature through all the different seasons of life, of which this first year is just the start.
Additionally, paper represents the interweaving of two lives together. On their own, paper fibres are just wisps that can be blown away by the slightest breeze. But when these fibres are converted into pulp, combined with water, flattened, and dried, they are tightly interwoven and strengthened. Similarly, marriage means two people choosing to come together and
intertwine their lives, in order to create something strong and beautiful.
Interestingly, the biblical writer Paul writes about a Christian’s relationship to Jesus Christ as a marriage. While there is much behind this symbolism, it would seem paper has a role to play: when a person becomes a Christian: he or she begins a new adventure with a blank canvas to start a new life afresh; growth and maturity take time to develop through the seasons of their life, and; the only way they can live a Christian life with something strong and beautiful created in them is because their life is interwoven with Christ.
Perhaps paper is a good tradition as a symbol of marriage and the Christian life, and just
maybe my suggestion of a piece of paper for my daughter’s first wedding anniversary present wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Have a celebratory week,