Stag parties are the major pre-wedding event for the groom, traditionally an elected best man will coordinate the details but this may vary according to administrative and organisational skills. The stag party, usually scheduled several weeks before the wedding, is a major date in the pre-nuptial calendar. Depending on the group and the best man they can be approached in a variety of ways, but ultimately they are a memorable celebration with the groom's very best friends and usually family, wishing the groom luck and sending him on his way. Stag parties may also be known by other terms in various countries e.g. as a buck’s party (Australia) and bull’s party (South Africa) and were originally designed to celebrate a mans last night of freedom. It’s usually planned by the best man, who is often helped along by stag party planning companies like StagWeb and the event is seen as a right of passage, preparing something memorable.
The stag party (and hen party) is firmly ingrained in our culture and duly comes with a degree of enthusiastic anticipation and more than a little opportunity to do something fun. While a few drinks 'down the Red Lion' has long been usurped, the last decade in particular has seen a significant growth in expectation. Anecdotal reference, new destinations, new activities, new venues, new flight routes and films like the "Hangover" have driven best men to seek out rewarding itineraries for the groom and his fellow stags.
A best man is judged on several levels and coordination of a successful stag do is without doubt one of the main responsibilities. Expectation is high, with all the assistance available and easily accessible opportunity to do something special, setting up a duff stag do is a long way short of acceptable. It may even be considered a difficult to recover from social faux pas, not least by the groom himself. With the wedding and speech coming up, that’s a hangover you don’t want.
Some sources allude to stag parties going back to Viking times when Viking Eric Bloodaxe, between raiding Scotland and ruling Northumbria, would gather his Viking mates, raise a little hell and thereafter solicit the favours of agreeable Viking womenfolk. We can neither confirm or deny that these same women may have been prepared to remove their ‘clothing’ for the appropriate sum (a boars head).
Looking however at the more reliable sources, it's suggested that stag dos first came about around the fifth century in Sparta, when military comrades would enthusiastically feast and toast one another on the eve of a friend's wedding. Much like the modern stag do they would say bid ‘αντίο’ to the carefree days of bachelorhood and swear continued allegiance to his comrades (and presumably his fiancée). As to the actual word ‘bachelor’, the history isn't totally clear; the earliest meaning in English of bachelor referenced in the late thirteenth century is ‘a young knight who followed the banner of another’. Chaucer also talked of a ‘bachelor’ in the late fourteenth century and meant it to mean ‘an unmarried man’. The English word apparently comes from Old French and most Old French apparently comes from Latin so it might possibly have meant ‘farmhand’ at one point but we're not too sure about that one!
If you look closely we've been mentioned at the home of Rugby, Twickenham stadium. Our @StagWeb Twitter account is featured on the tunnel wall giving the England Rugby team some inspiration before a game!
If you can't quite make it out, it says: "@StagWeb - There's no time like today to become legends!"
Hundreds before you. Thousands around you. Millions behind you. Our new tunnel artwork sums it up. #CarryThemHome pic.twitter.com/wzXPkUuZU4— Official RFU (@Official_RFU) November 2, 2013
For all you stags heading abroad for your stag do's - here's a quick stag-do-name guide so you can explain your behaviour to the locals:
While the UK and Ireland arguably set the standard, they’re now closely followed by the USA, and approach stag dos as significant life milestones. However, whilst a traditional celebration in many cultures, it’s not just us that commit to a celebratory weekend and variations on a theme do occur. For instance, to the horror of many a best man (and groom and possibly bride), in the USA they often hold Stag-and-Doe parties so the Bride and Groom can party together (in the UK we call this a Hag Do). In Germany they call a stag do a “Junggesellenabschied”, which they enjoy before the “Polterabend”, a pre-wedding party where pots and earthenwear are smashed on the floor. The amorous French are slightly more moribund when it comes to getting spliced and appear to see the stag celebration as a kind of Passover, subsequently calling their stag parties ‘enterrement de vie de garçon’, which literally means "(the) burial of the life as a boy" or "burial/funeral of the life as a bachelor".
In Hungary Hungarian peasants host a formal stag party during which the groom is offered to his future wife wearing only a special black apron and embroidered shirt to signify betrothal. The groom then wears these garments on a walk to show off the look to the admiring neighbourhood. Traditional Armenian men have it best of all though we reckon, a man would send his chosen bride some new clothes (instead of an expensive ring) and then she’d send him food. No forking out for a ring and a hearty slap up meal, what a winner. Serbia is another unusual one, to celebrate (apparently without the groom actually being present) the groom’s dad fills a flask with his best brandy, decorates it with shrubbery, chucks it over his shoulder and sets off to invite the guests - every person he invites gets a swig of brandy and then tops it up with their own and we’d bet they’re all too smashed to make it to the church. Transylvania top the morbid list as they tend to think of marriage as a sort of metaphorical death and play funeral dirges with the grooms friends singing horrific songs about the dead departing the world. Cheery.