Hen? Bachelorette? Stag? Bachelor? Bucks? It’s all Greek to me!

origin hen parties

The origins of the pre-wedding party.

We have a lot to thank the Greeks for. The arts, language, law, medicine, mathematics, philosophy, science and sports have all been greatly influenced by the Ancient Greeks. But when they weren’t busy influencing the world, they knew how to take time out and throw a bloody good party.

Ancient Greek wedding traditions were made up of three separate main events. I mean, why have one party when you can have three? Original divas, right? Anyway, the wedding itself lasted three days and the bride celebrated for a few weeks before the ceremony in her childhood home surrounded by her mother and other female relatives and friends. On the day of the wedding there would be a big feast and the bride and guests would make offerings to Artemis, the virgin goddess of childbirth. This ceremony signified the official end of her childhood. And for the guys, well, pre-wedding celebrations for the stag party date back to Ancient Greece too. At the same time the bride was celebrating, the groom was too. Like the bride, the groom would settle down to a celebratory feast along with all of his military comrades. And if they were anything like the modern-day pre-wedding parties we know today, there was probably a lot of alcohol involved.

But why are they called hen and stag parties and how have they evolved to what we know today?
When we look back on the history of these terms, it’s been recorded that the word hen is slang for "woman" and dates from the 1620s and hen party (gathering of women) was first recorded 1887. Stag has a more adjectival meaning and stag party (pertaining to or composed of males only) is American English slang which has been used from 1848. Either way, it looks as though the names have remained as a term to simply describe any all-female and all-male get together.

In the UK during the 1960s, women were embarrassingly paraded around their workplace whilst colleagues celebrated the marriage to-be. However, interestingly, in America, the term ‘hen party’ was first heard in the late 19th century, and surprisingly didn’t have anything to do with weddings. They were much more sombre affairs where the women would meet in each other’s homes, play cards, and drink tea. Reading this, you’d think they were the British!
However, it has only been in the last two decades where events have really taken off… literally by plane. In the 1990’s (I blame the Spice Girls #girlpower) women started to venture into having hen party weekends, staying nearby but going to spas or spending an evening enjoying the visual delights of the Chippendales, whilst the guys would opt for the more masculine affair of paintballing and bar crawls, possibly followed by an evening in Stringfellows which they swear didn’t happen. Yet, by the time the noughties arrived, both hen and stag parties started opting for longer events, such as 4-day city breaks across Europe. The temptation was sparked by an increase in budget airlines and cheap package holidays. Places like Barcelona, Prague and Amsterdam encountered women, giddy-like-schoolgirls, and men, horny-like-preteens, descending upon these cities in droves, some unleashing havoc onto the unsuspecting locals.

But everyone is different and celebrates in their own way. There are a lot of different traditions and customs associated with hen and stag parties and these are just a few of our favourite.
In the UK the brides-to-be are dressed-up with ‘L’ plates, badges, sashes and tiaras with penis whistles and shot-glasses-on-string and sent out for a night on the town. Here at Plan A, we can cater to any taste but if you don’t want to incorporate British traditions into your night of celebrations, we’ve got you covered. Check out our spa offers where you can clear your mind and relax your soul in one of Catalunya’s thermal mineral spas.

web hen

A South African tradition is an afternoon party in which guests bring a gift for the bride that is suitable for the kitchen only. The afternoon includes close family and friends who celebrate over lunch and play games to congratulate the bride-to-be. If you like the idea of this South African tradition, minus the kitchen gifts, we can create for you a glorious picnic on the beach or in one of the many green areas of Barcelona. The menu is chosen and selected by you, according to your preferences and dietary needs and prepared by industry qualified professionals. It’s the perfect way to create some special memories with your beautiful hens.

A German tradition is it’s customary to smash porcelain objects in order to bring the couple good luck in their marriage. No, we didn’t mistype Germany for Greece. Seems like the Germans like to smash things too! The translation of this tradition means “eve of making a racket,” and therefore we know this really translates into “having a wild party”. So, if this is something that interests you, Barcelona is proud of its nightlife and Plan A has gained a wealth of experience taking young people out at night, collaborating with some of the clubs and bars in the city.

Plan A have a whole variety of different events packages to suit any hen or stag and their guests. We have over 10 years’ experience in event planning and have built up an incredibly well trusted relationship with our partners. Unlike other agencies who add charges to the services they offer, Plan A don’t! We benefit from the commissions we receive from our partners, and not from you. So, if you want us to help you throw the best and last party of your single life, don’t delay the inevitable and contact us now. We look forward to receiving your call.