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An anniversary is a day that commemorates or celebrates a past event that occurred on the same day of the year as the initial event. For example, the first event is the initial occurrence or, if planned, the inaugural of the event. One year later would be the first anniversary of that event. The word was first used for Catholic feasts to commemorate saints.
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). Even in ancient Rome, we know of the [dies] Aquilae natalis ("birthday of the eagle", anniversary of the official founding of a legion).
Most countries around the world celebrate national anniversaries, for example the United States Bicentennial. These could be the date of independence of the nation or the adoption of a new constitution or form of government. The important dates in a sitting monarch's reign may also be commemorated, an event often referred to as a 'Jubilee'.
Anniversaries of nations are usually marked by the number of years elapsed described with Latin words or Roman numerals.
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Latin terms for anniversaries are mostly straightforward, particularly those relating to the first twenty years (1-20), those relating to multiples of ten years (30, 40, 60, 70 etc.), and those relating to multiples of centuries or millennia (100, 200, 300, 1000, 2000, 3000 etc.) In these instances, the anniversary generally comes from a derivative of the Latin word for the respective number of years. However, when anniversaries relate to fractions of centuries (125, 150, 175, 250 years - i.e., 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, and 2.5 centuries), the situation is not as simple.
Roman fractions were based on a duodecimal system. From 1/12 to 8/12 they were described as multiples of twelfths (uncia "twelfth"; the source of the English words inch and ounce) and from 9/12 to 11/12 they were described as multiple-twelfths less than the next whole unit - i.e., a whole unit less 3/12, 2/12 or 1/12 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 literally for 1½. Whereas "secundus" is Latin for "second", or "bis" for "twice" these terms are not used such as in sesqui-secundus. Instead just sesqui (or ses) is used by itself. This may be because it relates to a ratio of one - thus it means "and a half" compared to "one". (It may also be because 1/8 in Latin is sescuncia, sescunciae (from sesqui- + uncia, i.e., 1½ uncias) defined as one-and-a-half twelfths (3/2 × 1/12 = 1/8).)
|Anniversary||Preferred Term||Other Terms||Comments|
|20 years||Vigintennial / Vicennial||China/Porcelain|
|25 years||Quadranscentennial||Silver Jubilee||Probably a modern coined term.|
|50 years||Semicentennial / Quinquagenary||Golden Jubilee|
|60 years||Sexagennial / Sexagenary||Diamond Jubilee of monarchs|
|70 years||Septuagennial||Platinum Jubilee of monarchs|
|75 years||Dodranscentennial||Diamond Jubilee||Dodrans is a Latin contraction of de-quadrans which means "a whole unit less a quarter" (de means "from"; quadrans means "quarter". 75 years is a quarter century less than a whole century or 75 = (-25 + 100).|
|Dodracentennial||Alternative Latin form of Dodranscentennial|
|Dequascentennial||Alternative Latin form of Dodranscentennial|
|Semisesquicentennial||Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term. Demisesquicentennial or Hemisesquicentennialis are other similar variants.|
|100 years||Centennial||Centenary / platinum jubilee|
|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 or 175 = (-25 + 200).|
|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". However, it seems inappropriate to combine the terms que and de when dealing with such Roman fractions. In any event, if such a conjunction was appropriate then it would perhaps more likely have been "Dosquibicentennial" (but the result is little shorter anyway).|
|Demisemiseptcentennial||Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: demisemiseptcentennial; literally one-half (demi-) x one-half (semi-) x seven (sept-) x 100 years (centennial)—also demisemiseptcentenary.|
|Quartoseptcentennial||Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: quartoseptcentennial; literally one-quarter (quarto-) x seven (sept-) x 100 years (centennial)—also quartoseptcentenary.|
|Terquasquicentennial||First used by Bell Laboratories in celebrating its 175th anniversary as a corporation. Is 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- (1¼) × centennial (100 years)|
|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)|
|250 years||Sestercentennial||-||To express 2½ 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|
|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, but the elements of the word literally refer to an anniversary of 10,000 years, as follows: bi- (2) × cen(t)- (100) × quinquagenary (50 years)|
|Quarter-millennial||Meaning one fourth of one thousand years.|
|350 years||Sesquarcentennial||-||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.|
|Semiseptcentennial||Probably[attribution needed] a modern coined term: semi- (half) × sept(7) × cen(t)- (100) × centennial (350 years)|
|700 years||Septcentennial||Septuacentennial||Probably[attribution needed] a coined term; earliest known use in March 1988. Chiang Mai Septcentennial Stadium (Chiang Mai, Thailand) was completed in 1991.|
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. See wedding anniversary for a general list of the wedding anniversary symbols; however, there are variations in some national traditions.
Furthermore, there exist numerous partially overlapping, partially contradictory lists of anniversary gifts (such as wedding stones), separate from the 'traditional' names.
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