Bachelor Party – The History of Debauchery

When people say that they want to have a bachelor party or a bachelorette party, their entourage immediately snaps into action and try to come up with cliché ideas to make the night memorable. Both male and female versions tend to go for strip joints, a night full of drinking, and if they have enough cash at the end of the night, they might gamble or pay for a more private entertainment.

Everything that happens on this night is kept quiet from the significant other of whoever is getting married.

So, if it’s meant to be kept as a secret, costs money, eats up a lot of time, and causes everyone to have a hangover the next day, why do people still think this should be a part of the wedding festivities?

There’s just a different kind of appeal about these parties and that it’s become normal in today’s society. How so? Well, it’s believed that bachelor parties were started during the time of Spartans in 5th century BC.

It’s believed that Spartans loved to throw parties for their friends prior to their wedding day. The parties that they held were usually very tame and modest because it only involved a dinner and a toast to the groom.

If you look into the original meaning of the word “bachelor”, it used to only be the equivalent of a person who graduate with a bachelor’s degree or a young knight. As the centuries went on, Geoffrey Chaucer managed to add another meaning to the word thanks to his 14th century masterpiece, Canterbury Tales. He used the word to describe an unmarried man and well, the meaning stuck. However, it wasn’t until 1922 when the term “bachelor party” was coined and it meant “jolly old party” according to Chamber’s Journal of Literature, Science, and Arts. And this is just about the term used for the parties. Before “bachelor party” became a term, stag parties were all the rage by then. They pretty much mean the same thing, but do you really commonly hear people say that they’re holding a stag party before the wedding?

One of the most infamous parties held for a bachelor was held back in 1896. It was called The Awful Seeley Dinner, held by Herbert Barnum Seeley for his brother at a restaurant in New York called Sherry’s. It was scandalous during that time because a dancer named Little Egypt was allegedly hired to dance nude during dessert. By the morning, a police officer had to break the party up. The Seeley family did not take this well and placed a complaint against the cop for “conduct unbecoming to an officer of the law” and the resulting trial revealed what really happens during these parties.

For bachelorette parties, however, it’s a different story. It’s a more recent invention, considering that it only became a thing during the 1960s, thanks to the sexual revolution spearheaded by the ladies. Sure, bridal showers were already being held for decades by this point, but not all ladies enjoy the tradition. These showers are tam events involving friends and family of the bride and she’s given gifts that she can use for her home and for raising her family. A bachelorette party is an entirely different affair. It’s wild. It involves raunchy stuff that can raise the blood pressure of older members of the family.

Way back then, arranged marriages are pretty normal for families of both the bride and the groom. Usually, the marrying parties had no idea they were about to get wedded until a few weeks or days before the ceremony without even knowing their fiancé/fiancée properly. So yes, it does make a whole lot of sense to have a wild party during the last day of being single, especially if the wedding wasn’t something that the bride or the groom expected.

And even though arranged marriages aren’t as common nowadays as it was back then, bachelor and bachelorette parties are held because of the same reason: to celebrate the final moments of being unwedded and not having to answer to the law because whatever activity against the sanctity of marriage gets done during that night.

Even if arranged marriages don’t really happen that much, a person still deserves to have their last night of freedom for an entirely different reason. Well, before a couple gets engaged, they date each other for a number of years. Sure, not all relationships are perfect and some of them have cheating and other issues, but that one final night of being single still counts. It’s not because a person loses their freedom, per se, but it’s more about the fact that once they’re married, there are some expectations that are set. Also, once the kids start popping out, a husband and a wife can no longer participate in nights of debauchery—unless they can afford to, that is.

Though it does have historical roots, having a bachelor or a bachelorette party is still up to whoever is getting married. It’s usually the best man and the maid of honor who arranges these types of things and they’re also in charge of raising funds to hold these parties. Sometimes they pay for it straight out of their pockets, while other times they ask the other members of the entourage to chip in. The bride and the groom usually don’t pay for these parties because it’s being held in their honor. All they have to worry about is how are they going to have fun during that night.

Some couples opt out of having parties like this for their own personal reasons. While others think that these parties are the best part of getting married, apart from the main ceremony, of course. Another thing about these parties is that it doesn’t have to involve the cliché night of partying and having strippers. Hollywood has made bank from movies (Hangover franchise, anyone?) that exploit events that happen during these nights. People can celebrate their last night of being single by having a simple dinner with their closest pals, and maybe a quick poker game or going to the nearest casino.

So, if you’re planning on getting married and want a bachelor or a bachelorette party, make sure you tell your best man or maid of honor of what you want to experience. It’s all about you and your morals, of course.