Join us for the first of an electric three-part series penned by Mistress of Mayhem Siobhan Scanlon, founder of The Peacock Bride. In part one, Siobhan canvasses the surprising history of this most feminine of rituals.
Way back in 5th century Sparta, a man called Brad got down on one knee and popped the question to his college sweetheart Tiffany. Brad, feeling a little nervous about the whole commitment thing called on his farmer friends to ditch the land, bring the banter and send him flying up the aisle with a bang. And so the stag was born.
The hen took a little longer to hatch. The exact origin is unknown but many believe it emerged in North Africa sometime between the 6th and 20th century. The term ‘hen party’ has long been debated with some claiming it is derived from henna, a wedding custom in many cultures. Henna, if to be believed is capable of purifying the bride and keeping her free from evil. Personally, I’m not buying it. More realistic in my opinion is the claim by a local US paper in 1897 that ‘hen party’ was a “time honoured idea that tea and chitchats, gossip smart hats, constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings”. A better representation of the hen we know today for sure but really it wasn’t until the birth of the 1960’s sexual revolution that the flamboyant celebrations began to characterise the bride-to-be’s last night of freedom.
In the 70’s the bride was paraded around her work place as colleagues sang and danced to none
other than ACDC’s Highway to Hell, in celebration of the upcoming nuptials. At the time the celebration was more about the brides choice to relinquish work and embark on her new path of domesticity and motherhood. Far removed from todays celebration and hallelujah for that. The 90’s saw the emergence of the more risqué bash with w*lly straws, blow up dolls and more whips than Jamie Dornan could handle on a good day. Following this the hen weekend was born and hens began flocking to far away towns in their broods.
The last five years have seen chicks take the hen to the next level with brides looking for more than
just a booze filled bash and activities like laughter yoga, life drawing, knicker making and sumo wrestling have become more and more popular. In short the modern day hen party can be whatever you want it to be.
And so there it is; an ancient basis for what has become as a modern rite of passage for any bride to be. Throw in a dash of pink, a handful of glitter and a unicorn piñata… Hey presto, we have the modern day hen party!
Stay tuned next week for the second instalment of our alternative hen series, where Siobhan will dismantle the dictatorship of the blueprint hen.
We leave you to ponder the words of Mae, ‘there are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out,’ she says. Give in, and have a hell of a time doing it we say.