The stag do: Why it is our right to have a bachelor party
The traditional stag party has been going on for thousands of years, and it’s not going to stop any time soon!May 6, 2015
The Americans call it a bachelor party, the Brits a stag do, the Australians a buck's night - whatever you want to call it, the final blowout before the wedding is a rite of passage for every single soon-to-be-married man.
However, increasingly men are compromising, watering-down or even forgoing this right entirely, under pressure from insistent fiancées who claim that the stag party is nothing more than a modern gimmick created by bars, clubs and travel companies to get us to spend inordinate amounts of money before the wedding has even begun. Well, we hate to break this to you if you're reading, ladies, but the stag do is, in fact, a tradition that dates back millennia - and it's certainly not going to stop any time soon.
The venerable tradition of the stag party is thought to have its roots all the way back in the fifth century BC, where Spartan warriors would honour the groom's final night as a single man with a grand banquet. We imagine that even King Leonidas himself was stripped naked and handcuffed to a tree, while a tutting Queen Gorgo looked on as her hapless husband-to-be was stitched up by his soldier buddies... OK, maybe the naked handcuff thing might have come a bit later on. Skip forward a couple of millennia or so to the 16th century and the time of King Henry VIII, and the stag party was bigger than ever, as the king would send out messages by town crier for the male members of the court to attend his grandiose pre-wedding celebrations. The guy may have had six wives, but he sure as hell wasn't going to get bossed around by any of them; something the men of today could learn from - minus the penchant for decapitation, of course.
"Oh, but what if the party gets out of hand?" a frowning fiancée may enquire. That really is no problem. For centuries men have been getting in trouble at the their stag parties without long-term effects - in fact, the first known record of a stag do getting out of hand was all the way back in 1896. Herbert Barnum Seeley - the grandson of notable American showman and businessman P.T. Barnum - threw the party for his brother, but it was raided by police after rumours emerged that a famous belly dancer would be performing naked. Slaps on the wrist all round and everyone escaped with a caution - no harm no foul.
Of course, nowadays the classic stag night has evolved into what often turns out to be a stag weekend, or even week, with far-flung destinations, extravagant activities and even, if you're lucky, a bit of celebrity involvement, like when legendary comic Bill Murray descended on a random stag party to dispense some wise words to the groom-to-be (video below). The only possible reason against men having stag dos would be if women didn't have them too, but since the birth of the hen party during the Swinging Sixties, even that argument has fallen flat. Where women were once confined to the painfully dry bridal shower, where they would collect a dowry and gifts to prepare them for married life, they now have the opportunity to cut loose and get up to all the same mischief and merriment as the men.
For us blokes, the hen party is a great advancement. Not only does it dissuade any feeling of guilt over throwing a stag party, but it also provides the perfect window to arrange it for when the soon-to-be-wife is otherwise engaged. However, in recent years an extremely worrying development has taken place: for couples (read: women) who are perturbed by the expectations and possibilities of debauchery at separate stag and hen parties, the joint 'stag and doe' celebration has been born. And this is completely unacceptable.
Why? Well, these events are usually held by couples who have been together for a long time before getting married later in life, and not only are they usually depressingly civilised affairs with a foreboding atmosphere warning of the mundane marriage to come, but they also deprive both parties of their final night out of wedlock. If we have one piece of advice for any soon-to-be groom, it is to take full advantage of the stag do and enjoy it to the max - away from your other half. This isn't a slight on her, but as the woman you're about to spend the rest of your life with, the least she can afford you is one night away with the guys. A stag party is, was and always will be for a man and his mates.
Let's be quite clear here: we're not by any means saying that every groom must go on a massive blowout in Vegas that sees him swamped by strippers and drowning in tequila, but what is absolutely without doubt is that any man who has even an ounce of self-respect simply must spend his stag party away from his future bride. Can you imagine King Henry VIII inviting one of his wives along on a hunting trip or for a few drinks with the lads down at the public house the day before his wedding? No chance!
A stag do is not about partying, extreme activities and ending up in precarious situations (although all those things are admittedly part of the fun...), the real reason for a stag is to say goodbye to the single life, get over any last-minute feelings of cold feet and go out with one final hurrah - however you chose to celebrate it. And anyway, who are we to argue with two millennia of tradition?