• Thursday, 17 October 2019

    Is There A Difference Between A Bachelor Party And A Stag Party?

    Bachelor party, stag night, stag party, or enterrement de vie de garcon, is an initiation into marriage, which is commonly understood as a celebration of the groom’s last days of ‘freedom’ by the groom’s male friends. In simple words, these terminologies are a way to say ‘wild pre-wedding party.’ In the United Kingdom, it tends to be called a stag party, stag do, or a stag night. In the United States, it is the bachelor party, in Australia, it is called a bucks night/party, and in South Africa, it is called a bulls night/party. The equivalent ceremony for the bride, thrown by the bride’s female friends is a hen party or the bachelorette party.


    The definition of a bachelor party is different for everybody. For some, it is the idea of hiring topless dancers or male strippers for entertainment, and for others, it is an event of celebration where a groom could expect toasts from best friends followed by some embarrassing stories about the groom, a few rounds of shots, along with a headache in the morning.     

    Is there any difference?
    As said, all these terminologies mean the same thing. The only difference is that the terms are influenced by the region and country.
    • A stag party is a term used to describe the groom’s last night of freedom in the UK and Ireland
    • A bucks night is the term they apply for a stag party/night in Australia
    • A bulls nights is the term they apply for stag nights in South Africa
    • A bachelor party is a term they use in the US for the groom’s last outing away with his friends
    On the whole, all the above mean the same thing – activities, drinking, hotel stays, and sometimes getaway to far flung destinations.

    In English, the original meaning of the term ‘bachelor’ is a ‘young knight who follows the banner of another.’ Stag, buck, bull, etc. are slangs used for men, whereas, hen is the slang used for women.

    A stag has long been a symbol of manhood and masculinity. A stag’s horn, which points straight up, serve to fend off rivals and attract mates. The Celtic god of life and fertility, Cernunnos, is a symbol of the masculine, featuring the body of a warrior and the horns of a stag.

    It is said that the hen or stag party is derived from primordial customs. In ancient Greece, the bride-to-be joined her female friends and relatives in paying tribute to the protector of young girls and the goddess of childbirth – Artemis. In Sparta, friends celebrated the groom’s last night of freedom with a feast.  

    On the other hand, Henry VIII, known for his lavish parties, by marrying six times embedded the tradition into England. Over decades, a stag party involved a small gathering of friends for a simple drink, or for the more superior, a formal dinner hosted by the groom’s best man or father.   

    Pre-wedding party origins
    Although the modern forms are recent, the first known iteration of a stag party or a pre-wedding party comes from Sparta. You might be surprised to hear this since they had a particularly strange relationship with the perception of femininity. A pre-wedding event was organised where the groom’s comrades would make tributes and offer guidance as to what the groom could anticipate in marriage. While most of it was not complementary, much of it involved urgings in making a lot of babies or little Sparta soldiers for future conquests, which is both sad and boring.

    However, it was not all depressing at all. There was a lot of wine to drink!

    Gods and Bonfires
    As stated earlier, the origins of a bachelor party and stag night were wildly different. Stags were a common symbol of fertility rituals in the early British era. It featured fire, alcohol, feasts, and other things that could be considered regretting once it was over. While these events offered same natures of toasts the Spartans had, it was more whiskey and less militaristic nationalism.   

    The era of toasts and tuxedos – the bachelor party
    It is believed that the whole concept crashed when it reached the United States. The concept of a bachelor party in the US had a slow start, emerging in the late 19th century. The first mention to the bachelor party emerged in 1922. Well, between WW1, prohibition, and stock market crashes, the customs weren’t that much joyous. This may have contributed to the way these events are celebrated in the west side of the world.

    Extravagance was rare in these events, and apart from the activities of the rich, a bachelor party was more of a black tie event with male friends and relatives giving speeches. However, with time, a more open attitude emerged towards gender equality and sexuality. Women also started celebrating pre-wedding events in the form of a bachelorette party.

    Modern-day difference between bachelor party and stag party
    Now that we have gone past the era of Celtic fertility rituals and black tie dinners, what are the differences? Well, much like the individuals themselves, the concept of American and British pre-wedding events differ according to the groom’s interest and not by region. These parties have become more of a norm and a form of enjoyment.

    Both bachelor party and stag party are fun-filled and perceived to be sophisticated, such tuxedo steak dinners with whiskey and cigars. However, outings like camping, go-karting, and paintballing have been increasingly popularised these days in different cultures. In the United Kingdom, themed t-shirts are often worn during the stag party. On the other hand, destination pre-wedding parties are becoming a thing of the modern era, with Las Vegas being the hub of a bachelor party. In the UK, cities like Bournemouth and Newcastle are famous for hosting iconic stag parties.

    Overall, both the terms convey the same meaning, but how it is proposed depends on the interest of the people involved. As a groom, you can expect all sorts of madness.

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