Where Did The Tradition Of Bachelor Parties Come From?

Bachelor Parties

How exactly did the bachelor party tradition become so ingrained in societies around the globe?

Bacchanalia, booze, boobs, bad choices and more booze and boobs – all of the “big B” hallmarks of a traditional bachelor party. While many grooms-to-be still host these types of traditional events, also known as “stag parties,” there is a growing trend for bachelor parties to include other types of activities such as kayaking, rock climbing and even skydiving. If the price isn’t an object, a number of domestic and foreign resorts offer specialized package deals for bachelor parties that include these and numerous other activities depending on your personal preferences. Indeed, even budget-conscious bachelors or their buddies can throw a memorable and meaningful party if they know the ropes and spend some time planning. Looking for hens ideas Melbourne? Look no further, Magic Men has you covered.

To this end, this article on modern bachelor parties provides everything you need to know about planning and hosting a perfect bachelor party, one that you and your friends will never forget. Learning this stuff now is important because bachelor parties are an inevitable part of modern male life. As Bornstein and Romaniello (2014) emphasize, “Depending on the kind of guy you are, the standard-issue, Hangover-esque send-off is an event to be either revered or reviled. But regardless of your feelings about stag parties, you can’t avoid them. At some point in your life, you will attend, plan, or be thrown a bachelor party. And when done right, it’s awesome” (p. 3). In order to create an “awesome” party, though, you need to know the basics, including the best time to schedule a bachelor party, what types of events and activities are available and what they cost, and how to plan a guest list and invite your guests. In addition, it is also important to know why men have bachelor parties in the first place and a brief history is provided below.

Brief History

When men attend a bachelor party today, they are following a tradition that was established by the ancient Spartans that dates back more than three-and-a-half centuries. Although Spartans frequently died young due to the rigours and dangers of their military training and lifestyle, they did not become full-fledged warriors until they reached 30 years old and they were required to continue to serve on active duty until they reached age 60 years. It is little wonder, then, that young Spartans as far back as 500 BCE would seize every opportunity to party hearty and this opportunism accounts for the origins of the bachelor parties we know today. For instance, according to Bekiempis (2014), “Bachelor parties date back to 500 B.C. — Spartans would wine and dine grooms-to-be either in celebration or lamentation of their last night of singledom” (p. 37). In fact, even the etymology of “bachelor” shows that is originally meant a “young, unmarried man” and it is this definition that is used today, drawing on the tradition established by the ancient Spartans.

Although the traditional “big Bs” bachelor party remain popular among many grooms-to-be today, there are numerous alternatives available that can include any or all of the “big Bs” of course, but also some other adventure-packed and even fun-but-educational activities that will spice up any male gathering. In this regard, Drillinger and Fox (2013) point out that, “The fact is, while bachelor parties often descend into reckless, regrettable debauchery, they possess the potential to be once-in-a-lifetime adventures that can actually become positive, educational, and unforgettable experiences in a guy’s life — while at the same time being totally badass and verboten in their own way” (p. 21). Because the type of events and activities that will be featured at a bachelor party will affect its timing, it is important to decide what you and your guests want to do as discussed below.

A Time-honored Tradition

Let’s start with the basics: What the hell is a bachelor party (or stag/buck party) anyway? “A proper bachelor party is a rite of passage that’s less about machismo and more about bonding with close friends and family,” says Chris Easter, co-founder of The Man Registry, an online resource for grooms that features wedding tips, advice and gifts for men. “It’s part of the larger wedding celebration and honouring the next phase of life that the groom is about to embark on. Of course, you’ll still have these same friends after the wedding, but opportunities for these types of gatherings become less frequent the older we get.”

While many of us associate modern-day bachelor parties with a fair amount of debauchery (one survey found that about 18% of male respondents felt flirting, lap dances and similar activities were fair game), the original version of the fête was (supposedly) intended to be celebratory dinner.

“Bachelor parties began in the 5th century when the Spartans began holding dinners and toasts to honour the groom,” Easter says. “What we think of as modern bachelor parties (complete with bar-hopping, Vegas trips and another general tomfoolery) became more commonplace in the ’60s and ’70s.”

But things were getting out of hand long before the 20th century. According to an article in TIME, circus showman P.T. Barnum’s grandson Herbert Barnum Seeley threw a bachelor party in 1896 for his brother that “was raided by police after rumors circulated that a famous belly dancer would be performing nude.” And actor Jimmy Stewart’s 1949 bachelor party apparently included two little people (dressed only in diapers) popping out of a serving dish.

And while the bachelor party has served as a depraved last hurrah for male pals for many years, experts believe things are starting to mellow. “In the last decade, the trend is more subdued. Bachelor parties don’t focus as heavily on drinking,” Easter says. “This is due to couples marrying at older ages after their hard-partying days are behind them.”

Specific Activities and Events 

In the past, bachelor parties were typically held in local bars, fraternal organization halls or just the best man’s basement, but times have changed. Although commercial airlines are not especially bachelor-party friendly, a veritable smorgasbord of activities and events that are specifically tailored for bachelor party celebrations are available in the U.S. and nearby foreign venues so be sure to take some time to decide what would be best for your personal preferences and your guests’ tastes.

Bachelor party activities run the entire gamut from the relatively tame-but-classy steak and lobster dinner at a fine local restaurant, a gambling junket at some nearby casinos or a visit to a cigar bar to the more extreme such as driving a real race car, skydiving, white-water rafting, driving a 5-ton Russian T-55 Main Battle Tank and firing its cannons and machine guns to shred cars into pieces and many other adrenaline-pumping, testosterone-fueled options. 

These and other types of activities, of course, can be combined in countless ways with the “big Bs” of bachelor parties, but many men today are opting for less titillating alternatives out of respect for their brides-to-be as well as changes in social views concerning acceptable behaviors at bachelor parties and the increased dangers of sexually transmitted diseases (Drillinger & Fox, 2014). Nevertheless, for those who want to have “one last fling” before they tie the marital knot, there are plush island resorts in Cabo San Lucas, for example, that specialize in providing the entire spectrum of soft and “hard” adventures, and many charter cruise ship lines offer pole and lap dance cruises specifically for bachelor parties.

Besides strictly “fun” activities, there are also numerous bachelor party-themed adventure tours that include an educational component. You and your friends can visit ancient pyramids in Mexico and Central America, or an exotic trip to Peru where hikers can take the Inca Trail all the way to Machu Picchu. Have you ever wanted to participate in an archaeological dig, prospect for diamonds (that you get to keep of course), or experience weightlessness? These and an infinite number of other activities are also readily available, and creating unique experiences is just a matter of giving the issue some thought.

If you want to keep things local, check with travel agents in your area that specialize in planning and scheduling arrangements for bachelor parties. Tell them what types of activities you would like to be included in and see what’s available. Even if you don’t end up using a travel agent, they can probably give you some good ideas about where to start looking in your area and what bachelor party activities might be appropriate for you and your guests. Similarly, there are a number of larger international travel agencies that specialize in all-inclusive bachelor parties, and these can provide you with the most recent information concerning special packages and discounts that can help you fine-tune the scheduling and travel arrangements, an especially important factor when some (or all) of your guests live out of town. 

The Origin of Bachelor Parties

Bachelor Parties2

Where does the term stag party & bachelor party come from you ask?

The Origin of Bachelor Parties – This is a very good question. In Britain, Canada and Ireland the event is referred to as a stag party, stag night, stag do or stag weekend. In Australia, they are bucks parties and bachelor parties in America.

It is a party held for the single man just before he gets married. It is a celebration of his honour, although it may not seem like it at the time as humiliation seems to be the order of the day. Looking for Melbourne hens ideas to make sure you and your friends can enjoy hens party? Magic Men has you covered.

It is also sometimes known as his last night of freedom although the duration of the event over recent years seems to have changed from the traditional drink the night before the wedding to weekends away participating in things such as adventurous activities and generally getting involved in things his future wife may not approve of.

The Origin of Bachelor Parties?

It is a last chance as a bachelor to gather together a group of people who have known the him since childhood, through school, in University and work colleagues, sports clubs and obviously last but not least his family. It can often be the last opportunity to get this grouping of people together before the Groom and his peers take on more responsible adult marital roles – mortgages, children and monthly bills. This is not just you average night for drinking in the pub or bar. It has a tradition and mystique associated with it involving tricks and lots of drinking usually at the groom’s expense.

It often has a risqué element such as strippers or being stripped and tied to lampposts in the dead of night, body hair being shaved off, dressing up in fancy dress with the groom in female attire the list is endless.

Although there is not much evidence around to explain the origins of this famous tradition what evidence there is suggests that it was originally called the bachelor dinner, or stag party. Like many other wedding traditions, it seems to extend back into ancient history. Evidence suggests it first came about in the fifth century, in Sparta, where military comrades would feast and toast one another on the eve of a friend’s wedding. There he would say goodbye to the carefree days of bachelorhood and swear continued allegiance to his comrades.

Why a stag?

The reference to stag and bucks also has strong male conartations. The leader of the pack or herd, virile, male vigour and ardour, males in their prime identified with strength and vitality. There’s another stag connection with male rites of passage – again possibly involving drinking alcohol to excess and soliciting the favours of ladies who are prepared happily to remove all their clothing for the appropriate sum. The Horned God referred to in both Celtic and early English mythology was a symbol of all things male – the Celts called him Cernunnos.

Legend from these times is often confused, but it seems clear that in pre-Christian times, Brits definitely worshipped a large hairy god who sported antlers, ran around with the Einheriar, or wild hunt.

Why bachelor?

The origin of bachelor parties – As to the word bachelor, again its history is murky. The earliest meaning of bachelor in English is ‘a young knight who followed the banner of another’. This reference is first found in the late thirteenth century. The use of the word in the context of ‘an unmarried man’, is found in Chaucer in the late fourteenth century. The English word, seems to come from Old French. The source of the Old French word, many believe, probably comes from a Latin word baccalaris ‘farmhand’ but who really knows well your guess is as good as the next man!

An Expert’s Bachelor Party Checklist

While there’s no specific formula for a perfect bachelor party, Easter has a few must-have elements he believes ensure success:

  • Rules: “The party planner(s) should know what’s on and off limits for the groom beforehand,” he says. “This is his party, so don’t force him to do 20 shots at the club if his preference is to have a low-key dinner or simply play a round of golf.”
  • A comfortable budget: “Not everyone on the guest list will have the same financial situation,” Easter says. “Consider this when making party plans. The last thing you want to do is put a close friend in an uncomfortable situation that he can’t afford.”
  • Ample time before the wedding: “Despite what happens in the movies, holding the bachelor party a night or two before the wedding is an awful idea,” he says. “I don’t think I need to explain this one further.”

Timing Your Bachelor Party

Timing a bachelor party depends on a number of factors, but a good rule of thumb is the more advance notice that attendees receive the better. You might want to check with a few of your friends who will be invited to see if they have any scheduling conflicts you should avoid. Try to give everyone at least one month’s advance notice at any rate, or even longer if guests live out of state, and shoot for a 3-day weekend if possible at least one week before the wedding to allow everyone time to recuperate from the festivities.

Everyone’s seen videos on television of grooms passing out or puking on the bride’s shoes at the altar, so it is clear that the night before the wedding is not a good time for a drunken or otherwise energy-depleting bachelor party. At Magic Men, we have the best hens packages to make your party a night to remember.

Tips for Creating a Memorable Bachelor Party

Wherever you go and whatever you do for your bachelor party, the most important thing to keep in mind is to deliver your guests back home safe and sound (if somewhat worse for the wear otherwise). If you and your friends plan on drinking or doing drugs during your bachelor party, be sure to arrange for a designated driver or, if no one wants to assume this responsibility (a distinct possibility), arrange for a chauffeured limousine or taxis.

It is also important to note that the costs of the bachelor party should be shared equally among the guests but the groom should not be required to pay unless he insists.

Also, be sure to tell your guests to bring their cell phones with cameras or other video recording equipment to memorialize the event. A free and useful app that works with Android and IOS is Wedpics which offers unlimited photo storage space for bachelor parties so your guests can upload their photographs to a central repository where they can be edited and compiled into a montage of memorable episodes that can be recorded on a DVD and easily distributed to bachelor party guests (Sweeney, 2014).

While the bachelor party tradition dates to antiquity, it’s the 21st century and the “stag party” of yesteryear that featured little more than raunch and booze has gone out of style. Today, the world is the best man’s oyster when it comes to planning for and hosting a spectacular bachelor party. Even those of modest means can throw a bachelor party that will be a memorable event provided they take into account the issues described above and focus on providing the groom a good time.

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