Anniversaries for Jane Austen — 16 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this interesting post. Growing up, we did not make a big deal of birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. After marriage, my husband and I, also did not make a big deal out of any of these celebrations. The most we do is dinner and a museum or movie for our anniversary at which we have included our son. I think we have fit in very well at Jane’s time. We have a commonality with Jane in that my father in law died on our wedding anniversary, as Jane’s Mrs. LeFroy died on her birthday.

    • Coincidentally, I’m just like you, Deborah. We don’t do anything more elaborate for birthdays and anniversaries than a dinner out. And I dislike the holidays made for greeting card sales – though that’s my inner eighteenth century person coming out! Thanks for commenting…

  2. Thanks Diana, for this glimpse into Jane Austens views! You brought a smile to my lips, because I love language and its origins and with your post you’ve given me another thing to think about: The word “wedding day” (Hochzeitstag) is still used in Germany, so the second anniversary would be the second wedding day. Do you also have symbols for your anniversaries? The first anniversary is for example the “Paper Wedding Day”, 6th is ” Sugar Wedding Day”, 10th stands for roses, 25th stands for silver (“Silberhochzeit”), which is usually celebrated with a party or a dinner, and the same is done for the 50th (gold) and the 60th (diamond). Sometimes, the couple even goes back to church to “refresh” their votes…

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Nicola! And it’s interesting that yes, we do have symbols for wedding anniversaries, though it seems they may vary a bit from those in Germany. I think paper is the first anniversary (what you call “second,” which makes sense to me!), and silver is 25 and gold is 50, of course. I never heard of roses being 10 years, though, and I think 40th anniversary is ruby. Oh, yes, and 60th is diamond, same as with you. I think the symbols are the same in US and UK.

  3. We’ve never made a big deal about anniversaries. The only real “celebration” is being sure to spend that day together, no matter if we’re doing laundry, we’re doing it together LOL Birthdays are big deals though. We don’t do Christmas gifts (Christmas is for giving to those less fortunate and celebrating family) so birthdays are gifts and special meals and a day all about you. I love birthdays because it means I’ve lived another year, and that’s a big deal for me. 🙂 I love Jane’s responses to things. She was sarcastic and witty and I just adore it. I have a book of letters and another of “The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen” and they are among my favorites.

    • Stephanie, I love your traditions! “Just being together” is the very best anniversary present anybody could have, and I love your way of looking at it. Similarly with “Christmas is for giving to those less fortunate and celebrating family.” Thank you for an excellent reminder of the way it ought to be!

  4. A very interesting post about how little Jane wrote on birthdays and anniversaries. Maybe she was influenced by her religious education. Her father, a clergyman, certainly knew the celebration of birthdays had a pagan origin and didn’t approve of such a practice. As you say, birthdays were not celebrated as in our more commercially enthusiastic age.
    As for wedding anniversaries, I guess she felt as some single women who hate attending weddings or anniversaries because some people keep asking when is your turn! 🙂 It should be even worse in Jane’s era when spisters were so badly looked upon. Just a guess… I love weddings even as an ‘old’ spinters but I know many who don’t 🙁

    • Wonderful guesses, Rosa. It makes sense that a clergyman’s family might not make a big deal of birthdays, with the pagan connotation, but I don’t see much evidence that they were hugely celebrated even in non clergy families in Britain then. And I never thought of how Jane must feel going to an anniversary party – “When will YOU be getting married, Jane!” Ouch! Glad you enjoyed the post, I enjoyed your comments!

  5. Such an intriguing glimpse into Miss Austen’s daily life and the significance of birthdays and anniversaries. Thank you, Diana, for a lovely and thought-provoking post!! 🙂

    Susanne 🙂

  6. Such an interesting post, about something I had wondered about many times. Even when Jane was wishing her sister a happy birthday in an early letter, it was almost as an aside and more an opportunity to reference Tom LeFroy, so much in her thoughts at the time.

    • Oh, I have to look that one up, Joan! Thanks, that’s a very telling point, her offhand birthday reference, rather than anything “special” to mark the occasion. Glad you liked the post, I’d been struck about her lack of anniversary observations, and enjoyed looking into it.

  7. That was interesting and I am sure I would not have encountered this information without your essay. I can see where celebrations would not have been what we have today. Traveling and the easy ways we have to communicate are so very different. The poem was a little sad but read with the idea of one friend to another.

    • Yes – I remember life with only black and white TVs without many shows on them, but we forget how absolutely lacking in “media” and top speed communications things were in the 18th century. A mention of a birthday in a letter would be a big deal to the recipient! Thanks for your comment…yes, the poem was sad, clearly the shocking death of Mrs. Lefroy was something that deeply affected Jane.

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