Search icon


22nd Apr 2018

Is the hen party ritual past its sell-by-date?

Jade Hayden

hen party tradition

How many hens have you been on already this year?

One? Two? Twelve?

Whatever your number, chances are there were a few things present at the event.

The first is a bride-to-be dressed in white with a sash from the €2 shop around her shoulders. The second is an abundance of penis straws.

The start of any good night out, clearly.

It’s hard to run into a hen or a stag and not recognise it for what it is – a group of people celebrating, excited, and absolutely using any excuse to get totally hammered.

They’re popular pre-marriage events – traditions even. If the girls didn’t book a cocktail making class as pre-drinks featuring a MagicMike tribute act did you even get proposed to, like?

And yet, the unequivocal joy surrounding the stag and the hen does seem to be waning ever-so-slightly. Even if people are afraid to admit it.

According to a new study conducted by travel site Big Domain, 60 percent of people actually dread going to a stag or a hen.

As well as this, a considerable 40 percent say they will actively turn invitations to stags and hens down, while one in three admitted to hoping the whole ritual just ‘dies out’.

Fair enough, like.

As far as traditions go, the hen party has actually been around for a while.

Back in 1897, The Deseret News noted that a hen party was a “… time-honoured idea that tea and chitchats, gossip smart hats, constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings.”

It was an event where women gathered, sorted out some shit, shared some goss, and got on with the wedding planning.

These days, the hen party is a bit different. Namely because if you hadn’t got the wedding pretty much sorted by this stage you might be in trouble and also because there is generally no tea involved unless you count iced tea mixed with vodka.

So why do so many of us dread them so much?

At a guess, it’s most likely to do with repetitiveness.

The ‘modern hen’ can include anything from a spa weekend to a trip abroad to a quiet dinner with your mates.

It doesn’t have to be all bottles of wine and semi-naked lads (if that’s not what you’re into), and now that people have realised this, the ‘traditional hen’ that we’re all so familiar with just isn’t seeming half as appealing.

Or 60 percent as appealing, even.

And while most of us are up for getting messy drunk, wearing sashes and L-plates, and making total fools out of ourselves at least once in our lives, once is probably enough for a lot of us too.

There are simply so many other things we’d rather be doing than drinking until we collapse, jeering strippers, and sipping alcohol out of plastic penis straws.

The novelty is a lot of fun the first time. And maybe the second. But when you’re on your third hen in four months and you’re looking around the party bus at the drunken aunts, mums, and mates alike, you do have to stop and wonder – who is this for?

There are plenty of rituals and traditions around marriage that are long outdated.

More women are keeping their last names now, less people wear white, and so many simply cannot cease all contact from their partner the day before the wedding.

And yet the hen party rages on.

And a lot of the time it’s fun. It’s really fun. You get to see people you haven’t seen in years, you get to celebrate, you get to dress up and be ridiculous and basically not give a shit.

And for those of us who like that sort of thing (once a year is more than enough), that’s great – off we go on our weird bicycle-table hybrid cycling around town with the tunes blaring.

There are always those who don’t though and, as it turns out, there’s a lot of them.