Organising a Stag Do is now firmly established in our wedding traditions and cultures, not only in the UK and USA but the world over. This form of celebration sees the stag acknowledge the end of their life as a singleton and embrace their future connection as a married person.
The party involves both family and friends. It may be just over an evening or, as is becoming increasingly popular, involve a weekend away. A night around town, followed by a curry and piling into the best club around has been superseded by an action packed weekend away.
We surmise that this is linked to the fact that more and more couples are waiting to get married, the average age for men being 31 (source: Office of National Statistics), this average age has increased by 5 years since 1961.
The older and more mature the Groom is the higher their expectations of the stag weekend. He is more worldly-wise, has travelled, experienced fine dining and possibly the most important factor is that he has more disposable income.
It is now commonly believed that the stag/batchelor party has its roots as far back as the 5th century B.C. The ancient Spartans were the first to make the celebration out of the groom’s last night before getting wed. This took the form of a dinner and toasts (source Time Magazine)
The Horned God was referred to in both Celtic and early English mythology and was a symbol of all things male. The Horned God was a major deity in the U.K. prior to Christianity and may well be the founding for the term ‘stag’ in relation to stag parties.
Henry VIII ordered his men to attend his celebration by Town Crier or letter, on pain of death.
The word Bachelor was originally in reference to a young knight, but was used in relation to an unmarried man in Geoffrey Chaucer’s, 14th Century, “Canterbury Tales”.
The Stag Party survived the advent of Christianity and evolved into a black-tie dinner that was traditionally hosted and paid for by the Groom’s father.
In the 1960s, women caught up with the bachelorette party. In recent years, combined stag and doe parties have become popular.
“Bachelor party” was first used in 1922 in a Scottish journal to describe a "jolly old" party (source: www.newser.com/story/62119/bachelor-parties-creating-hangovers-since-500-bc.html)
In the UK, Ireland and Canada it would be Stag. Whilst is the USA they refer to a Bachelor party. The Australians call it a Bucks night and in South Africa a Bull’s night. All of the above do the job of conjuring up typical male machismo.
Across the world each country has its own name for this established male tradition. Legenybucsu translates as ‘farewell to bacherlorhood’ in Hungary. The German equivalent is called ‘Junggesellenabschied’. In Holland they call it ‘Mannennacht’.
In France they refer to the stag party as ‘enterrement de vie de garcon’, which roughly translates as "burial of the life of the boy" (source: www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1904885,00.html). Many would say if he survives a night of copious alcohol and high jinks and pranks then he's become a man!
Why have a Stag Party
This tradition is clearly viewed as a rite of passage into Manhood. As soon as a wedding date has been set the groom and best man must turn their attention to the Stag do.
‘Sending the stag off in style’ is now deemed a must as well as a challenge to those involved with the organisation.
After the hard work and rigours of wedding planning the chance to kick up the heels and relieve some of the pre-wedding jitters is most welcome.
The stag do could be the time that some family members and friends get to meet each other prior to the wedding. This social occasion is much more relaxed and conducive to meeting the extended family unit.
In 2004, Morgan Stanley reported "Almost one in five people in their 20s will also attend a hen or stag night, at an average cost of £135 for women and £238 for men (source: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3711733.stm).
The average cost of a stag do has risen from £91 in 2008 to £153 in 2013 (source: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2264515/Cost-staging-stag-hen-party-increased-FIFTY-cent-years.html). The average cost of a UK stag weekend has remained at £150, however 3 and 4 night trips abroad are costing upwards of £500 per person, with hotels, activities and flights. The most expensive stag group booking in 2016 was (source: freedomltd.com)
In 2016 the average group size for a stag party was 13.1. The average cost for groups including either activities or accommodation or both was £840. This cost doubles with transport, fancy dress costumes and beverages included. So with 50,000 weddings it means a total spend by British stags of over £300m (source: freedomltd.com). When combined with hen parties the total spend is £532m (source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/true-cost-of-stag-and-hen-nights-1118746)
Slovenia - On a Slovene stag night, the groom is forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and is then tied to a wooden cross (source: travel.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/business/businessspecial2/18ljubljana.html)
Scotland - there was a tradition of stag parties dressing up in colourful, hilarious, or ridiculous attire, or stripping the groom naked for 'tar [treacle, oil] and feather him (source: The Oxford Companion to Scottish History). Fancy dress on stag weekends has become a well established tradition around the world.
Lithuania – celebrate in the tradition western way
Having strong religious beliefs does not preclude the groom-to-be from have a pre-wedding bash. It will come as no surprise to find that strippers, alcohol or sin in any form is off the menu. This in no way stops the party goers from having fun, teasing the Stag and bonding before the wedding.
Jewish grooms-to-be were horrified to see two UK companies offering Stag Parties at Auschwitz (source: thejc.com/news/uk-news/stag-parties-at-auschwitz-1.14603). For orthodox Jews then a kosher last supper is expected and the event will take place on a Sunday, avoiding the Sabbath.
Christian stag parties big feast highlight would be a "last supper" and a roasting where each man tells an embarrassing story about the groom-to-be (source: ehow.co.uk/list_7267756_ideas-christian-bachelor-party.html)
The Muslim faith bans those more debauchery-styled stag do’s, so no drinking, gambling or strippers will feature. This leaves more money for a day full of activities.
Combined Stag and Hen Night - The Sten
Joining forces breaks the fundamental rules of a single sex party, however it is becoming a growing trend as people get married older they have joint friendship circles and want to share this important ritual. It also gave the opportunity for friends to mingle and get to know each other before the big day. It eliminates misbehaviour and rumours circulating about any risqué goings on!
One third in a survey would prefer a ‘sten’. 17% of men admitted that a joint party might prevent them from ‘getting up to mischief’ (source: skyscanner.net/news/one-third-menwomen-want-joint-stag-and-hen-party).
Present Day Trends
A pub crawl and fiery hot vindaloo the night before the wedding were once enough, but as our grooms are now getting married later in life, they’ve become more responsible and opt for at least the weekend before.
The average age for a groom in the US has risen from 24 to almost 29 in the past 30 years — Easter says, “They’ve got the college lifestyle and partying out of their system. Their interests have changed, and they don’t require a night of binge drinking to say goodbye to their single life. It means that a dinner with friends is an ideal alternative to doing 15 shots of whiskey and not remembering the night” (source: nypost.com/p/entertainment/men_gone_mild_hXQd3qsciPpjBfySreguNN)
A night of heavy drinking and outrageous debauchery will always ensure that the issue of trust will raise its accusatory head (source: articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-04-30/features/0304300034_1_bachelor-party-strip-club-guy-thing)
In the UK the question of having the party at a bustling city versus travelling abroad is now one facing our Stags. Cities in Europe, who were reliant on tourism as their main source of income, threw open their doors. Where once stag parties were frowned upon, now they can expect the red carpet treatment and are guaranteed a weekend to remember.
Combine this with cheap air travel as the airlines stepped up to the mark and got all competitive leaving the traveller as clear winners.
Las Vegas has become the major stag destination in the USA.
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