Nowadays it would be pretty unheard of to get married and not have a hen party or stag do in order to celebrate the final free moments before you tie the knot. Consequently we’ve heard of some pretty unusual hen party events along the way from perfume creation to go kart racing! But why is it called a hen party and why is it called a stag party? And where did these parties originate from?
Okay, so here’s the history lesson. A common misconception is that the terms ‘hen’ and ‘stag’ both originate from simple social stereotypes. In fact, it’s more likely that the word hen hasn’t always meant female chicken, in middle English, hen could mean the female of any bird and so a hen party was a party exclusively for ladies. Similarly, but going back even further, is the stag party, and you’ve guessed it, originally stag could mean the male of any animals, not just a male deer and so a stag party is one exclusively for gents.
So it turns out hen party’s aren’t a creation of modern society and they actually go pretty far back. Although I bet they didn’t have such unusual hen party events all that time ago…skydiving hens anyone? So where did the terms actually originate from? The tradition of the stag party, goes back even further (sorry Hens) certainly as far as tudor times. Just imagine how busy Henry VIII must have been with invites!
A hen night (UK, Ireland and Australia) or bachelorette party (United States) is a party held for a woman who is about to get married. While Beth Montemurro concludes that the bachelorette party is modelled after the centuries-old stag night in the US, which is itself historically a dinner given by the bridegroom to his friends shortly before his wedding, Sheila Young argues that its British counterpart evolved from a number of earlier pre-wedding traditions for women (Ribbon Girl, Pay Off, Bosola, Taking Out, Jumping the Chanty, to name but a few) whose origins are obscure but which have been around for at least a century in factories and offices across the UK. Despite its reputation as “a sodden farewell to maiden days” or “an evening of debauchery”, these events can simply be parties given in honor of the bride-to-be, in the style that is common to that social circle.
Numerous sources suggest that the very first stag party was actually held in the 5th century in Sparta, where a pre-marriage feast was held in order to toast the the groom-to-be. On the other hand, hen celebrations have their roots more grounded in North African, Middle Eastern and Asian lifestyle. This is because the authentic phrase from which hens get together is believed to be henna, which is a wedding custom in all these cultures. Henna has significant importance in the East and is considered to have tendencies to be capable of purifying the bride and hold her risk-free from evil.
In the UK ,people are somewhat on their own with our abstract names of hen and stag parties to see off the final moments of freedom. Australia is similar, but slight cultural differences mean that they call it hen party and buck party. Alternatively, America appear to be very vanilla in the naming of their pre-marital parties calling them a bachelorette party and a stag party respectively.
Whatever your background, there is no escaping the fact that marriage is possibly the most important decision of your life. So what better way to say goodbye to single life than to celebrate in style! Everyone knows that chocolate and hens go hand in hand, so if you’re after an unusual hen party event why not try your hand at one of our chocolate workshops?