Swedish celebrities including Miss Sweden Johanna Lind, Camilla Henemark, Alexandra Charles and Christina Schollin celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mae West at Berns in Stockholm in 1993
Memorial plaque presented by the National Capital Sesquicentennial Commission in Washington, D.C. in 1951

An anniversary is the date on which an event took place or an institution was founded in a previous year, and may also refer to the commemoration or celebration of that event. The word was first used for Catholic feasts to commemorate saints.

Most countries celebrate national anniversaries, typically called national days. These could be the date of independence of the nation or the adoption of a new constitution or form of government. There is no definite method for determining the date of establishment of an institution, and it is generally decided within the institution by convention. The important dates in a sitting monarch's reign may also be commemorated, an event often referred to as a "jubilee".


The Latin phrase dies natalis (literally "birth day") has become a common term, adopted in many languages, especially in intellectual and institutional circles, for the anniversary of the founding ("legal or statutory birth") of an institution, such as an alma mater (college or other school). In ancient Rome, the [dies] Aquilae natalis was the "birthday of the eagle", the anniversary of the official founding of a legion.

Anniversaries of nations are usually marked by the number of years elapsed, expressed with Latin words or Roman numerals.


Latin terms for anniversaries are mostly straightforward, particularly those relating to the first thirty years (1–30), or multiples of ten years (30, 40, 50, 60, 70 etc.), or multiples of centuries or millenniums (100, 200, 300, 1000, 2000, 3000, etc.). In these instances, the name of the anniversary is generally derived from the Latin word(s) for the respective number of years. When anniversaries relate to fractions of centuries (125, 150, 175, 225, 250, 275 years—i.e. 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2.25, 2.5, and 2.75 centuries), the situation is not as simple.

Roman fractions were based on a duodecimal system. From 112 to 812 they were expressed as multiples of twelfths (uncia "twelfth"; the source of the English words inch and ounce) and from 912 to 1112 they were expressed as multiple twelfths less than the next whole unit—i.e. a whole unit less 312, 212 or 112 respectively. There were also special terms for quarter (quadrans), half (semis), and three-quarters (dodrans). Dodrans is a Latin contraction of de-quadrans which means "a whole unit less a quarter" (de means "from"; quadrans means "quarter"). Thus for the example of 175 years, the term is a quarter century less than the next whole (bi)century or 175 = (−25 + 200).

In Latin, it seems that this rule did not apply precisely for 1+12. While secundus is Latin for "second", and bis for "twice", these terms are not used such as in sesqui-secundus. Instead sesqui (or ses) is used by itself.

Anniversary Latin-derived term Other terms Comments
6 months Semiannual 'Biannual' means twice in a year, but is also commonly used incorrectly to mean once every two years ('biennial').
1 year Annual Paper
2 years Biennial Cotton 'Biennial' means once every two years, but is also commonly used incorrectly to mean twice in a year ('biannual').
3 years Triennial Leather
4 years Quadrennial Linen
5 years Quinquennial Wood
6 years Sexennial Iron
7 years Septennial Wool
8 years Octennial Bronze
9 years Novennial Copper
10 years Decennial Tin
11 years Undecennial Steel
12 years Duodecennial Silk
1212 years Parsley A humorous or mock wedding anniversary celebrated in Germany and the Netherlands where everyone needs to wear something green
13 years Tredecennial Lace
14 years Quattuordecennial Ivory
15 years Quindecennial Crystal
16 years Sexdecennial Sapphire Sapphire is separately used for other anniversaries
17 years Septdecennial Orchid
18 years Octdecennial Quartz
19 years Novdecennial Jade
20 years Vigintennial China/Porcelain
25 years Quadranscentennial Silver
30 years Tricennial Pearl
35 years Quintricennial Coral
40 years Quadragennial Ruby
45 years Quinquadragennial Sapphire
50 years Semicentennial Golden Previously, "jubilee" by itself was used to indicate celebrations at 50 year intervals
55 years Quinquinquagennial Emerald
60 years Sexagennial Diamond Diamond is separately used for the 75th anniversary, its use for 60th years being popularized by Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria
65 years Quinsexagennial Sapphire Sapphire is separately used for other anniversaries
70 years Septuagennial Platinum
75 years Semisesquicentennial Diamond Diamond is separately used for the 60th anniversary. Semisesquicentennial can be broken down to understand its meaning: "semi" - half of + "sesqui" - in the ratio of 3:2 + "centennial" - 100 years. Broken out mathematically, 1/2 * 3/2 * 100 = 75.
80 years Octogintennial Oak
90 years Nonagintennial Granite
100 years Centennial Obsidian
125 years Quasquicentennial Term is broken down as quasqui- (and a quarter) centennial (100 years). Quasqui is a contraction from quadrans "a quarter" plus the clitic conjunction -que "and". The term was coined by Funk and Wagnalls editor Robert L. Chapman in 1961.
150 years Sesquicentennial Term broken down as sesqui- (one and a half) centennial (100 years)
175 years Dodransbicentennial Dodrans is a Latin contraction of de-quadrans which means "a whole unit less a quarter" (de means "from"; quadrans means "quarter"). 175 years is a quarter century less than the next whole (bi)century (175 = 200 − 25).
Dodrabicentennial Alternative Latin form of Dodransbicentennial
Dequasbicentennial Alternative Latin form of Dodransbicentennial
Dosquicentennial Dosquicentennial has been used in modern times and this is perhaps a modern contraction of "de-quadrans".
Demisemiseptcentennial Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: demisemiseptcentennial; literally one-half (demi-) × one-half (semi-) × seven (sept-) × 100 years (centennial)—also demisemiseptcentenary.
Quartoseptcentennial Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: quartoseptcentennial; literally one-quarter (quarto-) × seven (sept-) × 100 years (centennial)—also quartoseptcentenary.
Terquasquicentennial A coined word for an anniversary of 175 years, but the elements of the word literally refer to an anniversary of 375 years, as follows: ter- (3) × quasqui- (114) × centennial (100 years)
Septaquintaquinquecentennial Suggested by lexicographer Robert L. Chapman to William Safire; first appeared in Safire's column, "On Language" (The New York Times Magazine, February 12, 1995). It is a coined word for an anniversary of 175 years, but the elements of the word literally refer to an anniversary of 35,000 years, as follows: septaquinta- (70) × quinque- (5) × centennial (100 years)
200 years Bicentennial
225 years Quasquibicentennial
250 years Sestercentennial To express 2+12 in Latin it would be expressed as "half-three". The term relates to being halfway [from the second] to the third integer. In Latin this is "Sestertius", which is a contraction of semis (halfway) tertius (third)—hence Sestercentennial.
Semiquincentennial Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: semi- (half) × quin (5) × centennial (100 years) = 250 years. Used by Brown University in 2015.
Bicenquinquagenary Used by Princeton University in 1996, Reading, Pennsylvania in 1998, and Washington and Lee University in 1999. It is a coined word for an anniversary of 250 years: bi- (2) × cen(t)- (100) + quinquagenary (50 years).
275 years Bicenterquasquigenary
300 years Tercentennial
350 years Sesquarcentennial Sesquarcentennial is a modern coined term; sesquarcentennial for 350 years is deduced here from the "Sestertius" definition for 250 years above. For 350 years it relates to being halfway from the third to the fourth integer; thus a contraction of semis (halfway) and quartus (fourth); hence Sesquarcentennial. Semiseptcennial is probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: semi- (half) × sept (7) × cen(t)- (100) × centennial (350 years).
375 years Terquasquicentennial
400 years Quadricentennial
450 years Sesquincentennial
500 years Quincentenary
600 years Sexacentennial
700 years Septcentennial Probably[attribution needed] a coined term; earliest known use in March 1988. Chiang Mai Septcentennial Stadium (Chiang Mai, Thailand) was completed in 1991.
800 years Octocentennial
900 years Nonacentennial
1000 years Millennial
1500 years Sesquimillennial Term broken down as sesqui- (one and a half) millennial (1000 years)
2000 years Bimillennial
3000 years Trimillennial
4000 years Quadrimillennial
5000 years Quinmillennial
6000 years Sexmillennial
7000 years Septmillennial
8000 years Octomillennial
9000 years Novamillennial
10,000 years Decamillennial
100,000 years Centamillennial


Many anniversaries have special names. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post, published in 1922, contained suggestions for wedding anniversary gifts for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, and 75 years. Wedding anniversary gift suggestions for other years were added in later editions and publications; they now comprise what is referred to as the "traditional" list. Generally speaking, the longer the period, the more precious or durable the material associated with it.

There are variations according to some national traditions. There exist numerous partially overlapping, partially contradictory lists of anniversary gifts (such as wedding stones), separate from the "traditional" names. The concepts of a person's birthday stone and zodiac stone, by contrast, are fixed for life according to the day of the week, month, or astrological sign corresponding to the recipient's birthday.

See also

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