Category Archives: Cultural

Wedding Anniversaries in Western Culture

What is a wedding anniversary and why do we celebrate them as part of western culture? This is simply a celebration of the date that a person’s wedding took place. Traditionally these have been given names to indicate the length of marriage, such as the golden centenary to celebrate 50 years of marital union.

The Official Recognition

Important wedding anniversary milestones now receive official recognition by a number of governments and heads of state. This not only shows the respect for long lasting marriages that still exists to this day, but also allows the celebratory couple to enjoy their moment in the limelight with something a little special.

Official Recognition in the British Commonwealth
The monarch on the throne at the time of a person’s 60th, 65th and 70th wedding anniversary can issue a private message to the couple wishing them a happy centenary. However, this message will only be sent if an application is submitted to Buckingham Palace in the UK or the relevant Governor-General’s office in other Commonwealth countries. Any subsequent centenary after the 70th will automatically receive a message from the monarch if a request is again submitted.

In Australia and Canada the Governor-General will also issue a congratulatory note of his own on the occasion of a 50th centenary.

Official Recognition in the United States of America
In the USA a couple enjoying their 50th or any subsequent anniversary can receive personal wishes from the office of the President.

Official Recognition from the Papal State
Roman Catholic couples can receive a Papal blessing via their diocese for milestone wedding anniversaries such as their 25th, 50th, 60th and 70th centenaries. These Papal blessings have to be applied for before the time and will be approved by the Vatican in the Papal State.

Traditional Gifts

The names of traditional wedding anniversaries provide a rough guideline for the types of traditional gifts that spouses are supposed to exchange on a wedding day. Below is a list of some of the more important wedding anniversaries and the corresponding gifts:

The first wedding anniversary is the Paper Anniversary
The fifth wedding anniversary is the Wooden Anniversary
The tenth wedding anniversary is the Tin Anniversary
The fifteenth anniversary is the Crystal Anniversary
The twentieth anniversary is the China Anniversary
The twenty-fifth anniversary is the Silver Anniversary

Two of the most important centenary celebrations are the 50th and 60th which are the Golden and Diamond centenaries respectively. These traditional centenary gifts are believed to have originated in Germany, but it must be noted that the gifts and centenary symbols have started to change over time with the diamond now a well-known British symbol for a 75th centenary.

Surfing and Beach Culture

Australia is the quintessential home of beach culture, with the nation’s beaches ranging from sweeping crescents with rolling waves to tiny, secluded coves. Almost all Australians live within a two-hour drive of the coast, and during the hot summers it is almost second nature to make for the water to cool off. The clichéd image of the sun-bronzed Australian is no longer the reality it once was, but popular beaches are still packed with tanned bodies basking on golden sands or frolicking in deep blue waves. Fines levied for inappropriate behaviour mean that the atmosphere is calm and safe at all times. Surfing has always been a national sport, with regular carnivals and competitions held on the coastline. There are also opportunities for beginners to try their hand at this daring sport.

Baked-brown bodies and sun-bleached hair were once the epitome of beach culture.

Surf carnivals attract thousands of spectators, who thrill to races, “iron man” competitions, dummy rescues and spectacular lifeboat displays.

Where To Surf

The best surfing to be found in Australia is on the New South Wales coast, the southern Queensland coast, especially the aptly named Surfer’s Paradise and the Sunshine Coast and the southern coastline of Western Australia. Tasmania also has some fine surfing beaches on its northwestern tip. Despite superb north Queensland beaches, the Great Barrier Reef stops the waves well before they reach the mainland. In summer, deadly marine stingers (jellyfish) here make surf swimming impossible in many areas, unless there is a stinger-proof enclosure.

Beach Activities

Australian beaches are not only the preserve of surfers. Winter temperatures are mild in most coastal areas, so many beach activities are enjoyed all year. Weekends see thousands of pleasure boats, from small runabouts to luxury yachts, competing in races or just out for a picnic in some sheltered cove. The sails of windsurfers create swirls of colour on gusty days. Kite-flying has become an art form, with the Festival of the Winds a September highlight at Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

Beach volleyball, once a knockabout game, is now an Olympic sport.

Surf lifesaving is an integral part of the Australian beach scene. Trained volunteer lifesavers, easily recognized by their red and yellow swimming caps, ensure that swimmers stay within flag-defined safe areas and are ready to spring into action if someone is in trouble.

Takeaway snack food at the beach is an Australian tradition, since many sun lovers spend entire days by the ocean. Fish and chips, kebabs and burgers are on sale at beach cafés.

The Australian crawl revolutionized swimming throughout the world in the 1880s. For most Australians, swimming is an everyday sport, learned at a very early age.


Beaches are safe provided you follow a few guidelines:

• Always swim “between the flags”.

• Don’t swim alone.

• Note signs warning of strong currents, blue bottles or stingers.

• If you get into difficulty, do not wave but signal for help by raising one arm straight in the air.

• Use Factor 30+ sunscreen and wear a shirt and hat.