15 Aug 2016
History of Stag & Hen Parties
Staf and Hen Parties. Males have been throwing prenuptial parties for so long that historians are reluctant to confirm when they actually started. Some suggest as far back as Ancient Greece, when Spartans would feast and drink the night before a wedding, reminiscing with the groom over times spent together. Other historians believe that stag parties weren’t established until the 15th century, when Henry VIII held lavish banquets before each of his six weddings.
Whilst the same traditions of eating, drinking and spending quality time with your best friends have been maintained, it’s now considered unwise to risk too much the night before the wedding, and parties are often held at least two weeks before the main event. During the past decade, many stag nights have been extended to stag weekends, which may include activities, such as clay-pigeon shooting, paint balling and go-karting.
Hen dos, on the other hand, arrived much later on the scene. Modest prenuptial gatherings had been held for several centuries, but were restricted to acquiring dowries and gifts in preparation for married life. It wasn’t until the sexual revolution of the 1960s, that flamboyant celebrations began to typify the bride’s ‘last night of freedom’.
Hens evolved much faster than the stags, taking just a few decades to follow the path that took men more than five centuries to walk. But similarly, progressing from a meal and drinks with the girls to mini-breaks in European cities, hen weekends are now starting to become the norm.
Most cultures hold pre-wedding celebrations of some sort and, whilst many follow similar traditions of pampering the hen and humiliating the stag, many countries also practice their own unique rituals: Russian grooms often undergo a series of ‘tests’, such as answering questions about their fiancé’s past, whilst the bride traditionally enters a period of mourning, following the engagement. In India, the bride’s family hold a ‘Mehendi’ celebration for her friends and relatives, during which the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with henna tattoos. And in China, the night before the wedding, both bride and groom attend ‘hair combing ceremonies’, when they are blessed by good-fortune women, who promise them a marriage of harmony, fertility and longevity.
These celebrations are still seen as a vital element of pre-wedding preparations and, whether they involve bizarre rituals, civilised meals or a weekend of activities, the philosophy of celebrating friendship, saying ‘farewell’ to unmarried life and making preparations for a new and lasting partnership is one shared throughout the globe.
This article was provided by Lucy Grewcock of redsevenleisure.co.uk