Hens Ideas

Why do they call it a hens party?

Hen parties are big business right now, but that has not always been the case. The practice of a dedicated party for the bride has only been around for the last 60 years. The idea for it was born out of the grooms version, the stag does, which can trace its history much further back. While it may seem an easy connection for a name like Hen to be a female version of the stag, there may be more to it than that.

Looking for hens ideas? Look no further, Magic Men has you covered.

THE HISTORY OF THE HENS PARTY

Who Uses The Term Hen?

The term Hen is a geographic-specific term. While prevalent in the UK and countries like Australia, the party is known as a bachelorette, a feminine form of bachelor in America. This itself was an old medieval term for a Knight that followed another’s banner. The term hen does or at least did, exist in America, however. It was a term for an all-female gathering before being connected to weddings. There is a mention in 1940 of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt hosting a ‘hen party’ with cabinet wives and ladies of the press.

Now the use of hen party is almost exclusively used in the UK. It can be found in Anglo countries like Australia and New Zealand who kept the term. Their term for a stag is a buck, but they refer to the female version as Hen.

How long has the term been used?

The first time the term was recorded was in America in 1897. The act of a hen party as a concept has only been around since the 19th century. It was not until the social awakening of the 1960s that women started joining in with the men and partying before a wedding. A Google N-Gram study, which is a tool that looks at the word used in books, found that the term ‘hen party’ dramatically increased from 1960 onwards, giving us a timestamp of not only when the name was being used but when hen parties were becoming popular. While hen parties had been mentioned in the past as an all-female party, it was never related to weddings. In the UK the first time a mention of the term regarding weddings was in The Times in 1976. In true hen party style, the story was about a male stripper who had to go in front of Leicester Crown Court due to ‘lewd and obscene behaviour’. Something our partners from Adonis knows about all too well.

Where does the Hen term come from?

The term for a hen party can be placed on a few explanations. One of the most obvious connections is that hens refer to a female chicken and the party is exclusively women. Hens also give the image of a group dynamic, with hens often sticking together in the field, like they would on Manchester’s streets!

Another explanation is rooted in middle English. Hens were not just the name for a female chicken but also used to describe any female side. This seeped into the vocabulary of medieval times. Stags can trace the history back to Tudor times in the text and even all the way back to ancient Greece. The men of Sparta would celebrate the groom to be, with a feast and celebration.

A more interesting theory has more exotic beginnings. In North Africa, the Middle East and Asia there are some traditions that are not involved in our weddings. One of those is the art of painting henna onto the bride to be. It is believed this would be purifying the bride and rid her of any evil. The connection is, therefore, that the henna ceremony becomes a ‘hen night’. This is a beautiful tradition, but ladies over here are more likely to paint themselves with a fake tan than henna.

IT’S A RITE OF PASSAGE!

The Hens Party is a rite of passage for any modern bridal party, so much so that our September and October calendars are filled with awesome groups of brides and bridesmaids to be looking for a unique shindig for their celebration.

Without exaggerating, it is a huge trend and has been gaining popularity like wildfire since the turn of the millennium. So for all those souls wondering how this whole thing exploded, here is everything you wanna know about the History of Hens Parties!

HEN’S PARTIES ARE BACHELORETTE PARTIES!

For those who are new to the concept, let me give a brief introduction. ‘Hens night’, ‘Hens do’, Hens party’ etc. are all synonymous with the bachelorette party- or the pre-wedding party primarily organised for the bride-to-be. Bachelorette parties aren’t common everywhere and are most popular in Ireland, New Zealand, UK, USA and Australia.

WHAT THEY INVOLVE.

Hens parties involve all manner of entertainments which widely vary and depend on the preferences of the organisers. It can be anything from a pyjama party to a week in the bride-to-be’s favourite holiday destination or a grand booze-up club party.

Lately, male strippers and (almost) naked butlers/chef services have become popular with those who would like to give the Stag Nights a run for their money. We at Great Race tend to sit in the middle of these trends as we cater for Hens groups who want some excitement and adventure before they head off to either more relaxing or more devious activities.

THE HENS HISTORY

Now let’s have a closer look at the roots of this whole thing called Hens party- and trust me; it is not brand new stuff! It dates back to the marriage ceremonies in old (I mean several centuries old) Greece- though it wasn’t much like the present-day hens’ parties!

As a part of pre-marriage rituals, the bride-to-be was supposed to spend all her female kith and kin. The rituals, among other things, also involved various kinds of sacrifices (toys, childhood clothes, locks of hair etc.) and dedications made by her to the goddess of virginity. This symbolised the brides change from a child to a woman.

In its essence, the night would involve a group of women, sharing their stories and experiences about the wedding night, advising on how to pleasure their husbands and sexual revelations that the bride-to-be would have been unaware until now. Move forward a few centuries, and the term Hen Party came to refer to any female gathering- not necessarily pre-wedding.

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY!

Hens Ideas

In the 20th century, use of the term hens party gathered particular attention and fame. It was once used while describing a Christmas party for cabinet ladies and other women. In the 1970s, the term was first reported in The NY Times to report on the scandalous rise of male strippers (go that 70’s free love!).

Since then, hens parties have viewed it as a phenomenon symbolising gender equality. While for some groups of hens, they like to use this party as a celebration of the last moments of single-life and independence, others like to mirror or match the debauchery of bachelor parties or stag-dos.

Either way, we like hens to express themselves however they choose. We just want to make sure our hens have fun!

Why Is It Called A Hen Party?

Have you ever wondered what the meaning of hen party is? Why do we call it a hen party or Hen do and what does it have to do with poultry? In fact, it hasn’t got much to do with chickens at all, and the origins of the term hen party stem from something quite different.

Why is a hen called a hen?

The meaning of the term “Hen Party” stems from the fact that the word ‘hen’ hasn’t always meant female chicken, but rather way back in Middle English, a look at the etymology of the word ‘hen’ shows us that it used to be used to refer to the female of any bird, or sometimes the female gender of any species of animal.

Similarly, the word ‘stag’ was used to refer to the male of a species, and therefore it developed to become the word used to refer to a party exclusively for males, just as a hen party came to mean a party exclusively for females.

Is the bride the Hen?

Basically, anyone who is attending a hen party is referred to as a hen, and the entire group is known as ‘the hens’ or ‘the hen party.’ The bride is essentially also a hen, but for clarity is often just referred to as ‘The Bride’ at the actual event.

Other names for a hen party

The terms used for hen and stag parties vary according to location, and there is wide variation even within the English-speaking world.

Take a look at these alternative words for hen and stag parties:

  • Australia: Hen and Buck Party
  • America: Bachelorette and Bachelor Party.
  • South Africa: It is common to hold a party called “The Kitchen Tea”. This involves women gathering for a tea party just before the wedding where they bring gifts destined for the bride-to-be’s new kitchen.
  • Canada: There is the “Stag and Doe” party which includes both men and women where the main aim is to help raise funds to pay for the couple’s wedding or honeymoon.

When did hen parties start?

Research indicates that the idea of a celebration or gathering before nuptials goes back much further into history than we might think. As expected, the concept of the stag party actually occurred first. We know that stag parties were likely taking place in Tudor times already, you can just imagine the kinds of ale-fuelled feasts they had.

Some sources suggest that the idea of a stag party actually originated even earlier during the 5th Century BC with the Spartans being the first to celebrate a man’s last night of freedom.

Spartan soldiers are known to have held dinners where toasts would be made to the groom-to-be. No doubt there were fewer shots than there are nowadays, although perhaps strippers weren’t unheard of.

Hen parties arrived on the scene much later. Pre 19th Century, women might have had a bridal shower where they would hopefully be ‘showered’ with gifts (think more embroidered handkerchiefs than matching “Bride Tribe” bikinis) to prepare them for married life and to provide a dowry.

So there you have it, the history of the term ‘hens party’. 

Bucks & Hens Parties

No, not a bunch of Bambi-like bucks and funky little lady chickens boogying away at a party, but men and women celebrating their upcoming nuptials. These bucks and hens parties Down Under are very similar to bachelor and bachelorette parties in America. Bucks and hens parties in Australia usually last for a whole weekend. The Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honour usually help with planning a bucks or hens party for the groom and the bride, but the bride or groom can feel free to plan their own.

Get exclusive drinks and show packages for your next hens party here at Magic Men.

A typical bucks party for the groom

The guys get together and, depending on styles and tastes, and the festivities may last all weekend. There is something for everyone to do together: Fishing, surfing or even skydiving. They might travel to get to the location{s} where the festivities will be held. Here are some of the ideas:

Road trip — 

A weekend away in the mountains for snowboarding/skiing or at the beach for surfing and partying. What they’ll be up to depends on the group of guys, really.

Casino — 

Vegas-style. Can go all night. Or all weekend.

Golf — 

18 holes thrown in somewhere during the weekend. Dads and grandpas might join in on this part.

Steak — 

Meat. A man and his steak dinner… From the barbie or at a steakhouse.

On a boat — 

This could involve staying on a houseboat for the weekend for fishing and water sports, or taking an evening cruise on a party boat in Sydney Harbour.

Limo — 

Have someone else drive them around. In style. So nobody is drinking and driving either.

Alcohol — 

And loads of it, if that’s what they prefer. Sometimes drugs are involved as well, depending on the group of guys.

Clubbing — 

Either going out clubbing or renting out the VIP room of one of the hottest clubs in town, if this is their style.

House party — 

They might hire a house for the weekend, somewhere away from the bride and her group. This is where most of the festivities will take place, while the evenings are often spent in the city at clubs.

Stripper{s}/Topless Waitress{es} — 

Oh, but of course… Much to the ladies’ chagrin normally, this seems to be an element of nearly all bucks parties. And hopefully, this is as far as it will go.

A typical hens party for the bride

Like what the bucks are up to, the ladies get together, and the festivities may last all weekend. There’s something to do together: Pampering, shopping and/or… even skydiving. They also may travel to get to where the festivities will be held. Here are some of the ideas:

Pampering — 

The ladies will take a whole day to indulge in getting manicures, pedicures, facials, hair styling, massages and more. If they can afford it, they might do so at a day spa.

High Tea — 

High tea is like steak for the ladies. Mums and grandmas are usually along for this part of the celebration.

Road trip — 

A weekend away of relaxing on a beach, being pampered during the day and partying all night.

Clubbing — 

As with the bucks party, the ladies will go out but often in some form of a dress-up/costume theme. Most of the hens I’ve seen are just wearing a tiara and sash, but I’ve also seen some pretty extreme ones where they’re dressed-up {down} into sexy costumes, boogying away on the dance floor.

House party — 

Same as with the guys, the girls might indulge in a lot of their party at the hired home and then set out at night for the clubs.

Limo — 

Have someone else drive them around. In style. So nobody is drinking and driving either.

Alcohol — 

Lots of bubbly going around, but it all depends on the group of women. Drugs might also be involved, depending on what type of group we’re talking about.

Harbour Cruise — 

There are many types of party boats out there on the Sydney Harbour, just as an example.

Wineries — 

I’ve seen a hens party tour bus stopping off at every winery in the Hunter Valley…

Stripper{s}/Topless Waiter{s} — 

I might be partial to this because I’m a woman, but I think that most of the women who throw a hens party will involve a male stripper only because their significant other is having the same activity going on at his party and she is aware of it while planning her own.

Typical places where the bucks and hens parties are held in Australia:

  • Surfers Paradise/Gold Coast
  • Nightlife: In Sydney, this might be in Kings Cross or Darlinghurst
  • Beach/Bush — Camping, skiing/snowboarding, fishing, or surfing getaways
  • Byron Bay
  • Wineries
  • Cruises

Check out range of Magic Men’s Melbourne hens ideas to help in your party planning.

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