You might have delegated responsibility for the stag night to your Best Man and are looking forward to a weekend of jolly japes and some brotherly bonding with your mates, but do you know the history of the stag do? You could be surprised by the origins of this most traditional celebration.
It’s all Greek to Me
Stag nights have been celebrated throughout history and it has been discovered that the Spartans were the first to have a raucous celebration of the groom’s last night of freedom. The Spartan men would all gather round a huge feast and toast the health and future of the groom-to-be, in usual Spartan style.
Burying Your Youth
In many French speaking countries, the stag do is referred to as “enterrement de vie de garcon” which means “the burial of the life of the boy”. It’s a mix of a celebration and a commiseration party to mourn the loss of boyhood and celebrate their entry into adulthood and married life. Typically the French stag dos also feature copious amounts of alcohol and various high jinxes.
Why is it called a Stag Party?
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. The reference to stags of course is the connotations of virility, pack leaders, strength and being in the prime of their life. But being called a stag may also refer to the Horned God in Wiccan religions who represents hunting, sexuality and the life cycle. The Horned God was the masculine side of the equal divinity, with his opposite being the Goddess. The Wiccans would worship this god but I doubt anyone today would worship at the feet of the prospective groom on his stag night.
The Best and Worst Stag Dos
Stag parties do have a rather notorious reputation which usually involves excess alcohol. The first record of a stag party getting out of hand related to Herbert Barnum Seeley, grandson of P.T. Barnum, whose stag party was raided by police acting on a tip-off about a certain belly dancer performing in the nude.
One of the most unusual criticisms was reserved for a group of men on a stag do who attempted to scale Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, dressed only in their pyjamas in severe weather. Kudos to the men though – they did make it!
Today’s stag parties are much more refined and can turn into a weekend break with groups of friends going on adventure holidays and luxury breaks. A far cry from those first Spartan parties!