By Deane Barker

In it’s most generic sense, this is just a celebration, usually an anniversary of some kind.

It’s from a Latin word meaning “to shout for joy.” It’s the same root from which we get “jubilant.”

However, it’s usually used to describe an anniversary of a monarch taking the throne. That monarch celebrates their “____ Jubilee,” with the adjective being some precious stone or metal associated with the year.

For example, the British monarchy celebrates the following jubilees:

  • Silver Jubilee for 25 years
  • Ruby Jubilee for 40 years
  • Golden Jubilee for 50 years
  • Diamond Jubilee for 60 years or 75 years
  • Sapphire Jubilee for 65 years
  • Platinum Jubilee for 70 years

They don’t seem to start until 25 years, and they get closer and closer as the monarch gets older, presumably because they’re getting closer to death, so there’s no telling how many more there will be to celebrate.

There are also some more specific usages:

  • Every 25 or 50 years, the Pope normally declares a “jubilee” which means it is a special year of forgiveness and remission of sins. As of this writing, the last one was declared in 2000, by Pope John Paul in 1994

  • In Leviticus 25:10, a jubilee is decreed for every 50 years.

    Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.

    According to Jewish tradition, in jubilee years, debts would be forgiven and slaves would be liberated.

Based on my reading, then the word “jubilee” is simply used without a year, it means a general anniversary or, often, a 50th anniversary.

Why I Looked It Up

Annie and I went to London for a week and took several tours. It seemed that every tour pointed out something to do with a jubilee of some kind. Sometimes they specified a stone (see above), and other times they just used the word generically.

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