hen nights

Describing Nicole Kidman and what's-his-name's prenuptial activities, Scott Lamb on Salon writes:
Much less interesting is the description of Kidman's bachelorette party, or as they say down under, her hen's night: "Instead of male strippers and boozing, the girls each brought a favorite recipe to discuss."

They may say hen's night in Australia (and they do, if the internet is to be trusted), but in the UK and Ireland, it's generally referred to as a hen night. While the term bachelorette party is used in the US, I've never been to one--in spite of having been a bridesmaid five times and (more recently) a sister-in-law three times--so I wonder how popular they actually are. But here, [drunken] hen nights are hard to escape, especially if you live in a coastal/touristy town like mine. I met three hen nights tonight on my post-prandial promenade. One group were all wearing glittery pink cowboy hats, one seemed to have wreaths of flowers on their heads (much more classy), then there's the ever-popular bunny ears. You can usually spot the bride because she's the one (a) with a veil, (b) with L-plates (the badge that learner drivers must display on their cars), or (c) carrying a naked, male blow-up doll or giant penis balloon. More and more popular are hen weekends--which often involve going abroad, or to touristy coastal towns like mine. There are businesses that speciali{s/z}e in organising hen trips.

Of course, older brides tend not to go for the pink cowgirl outfits or matching t-shirts with pictures of the bride. Recipe-swapping sounds like a nice alternative. But I do wonder about the rate of male take-up on a local 'paint your own pottery' business that advertises "Have your hen night/stag party here!"


  1. Yes, it is common to see multiple hen's (or should that be hens'?) parties at the local casino competing with one another to run between the slot machines. The brides always have the bunny ears and veil, a glass of champas in one hand and the blow-up doll in the other.

  2. In this case you can trust the net. In Australia we do have "hen's nights". The male equivalent is a "buck's night".

  3. I'm from Canada, and I've also heard them referred to as "stagettes" (or stagette party), the men's version being a "stag".

  4. Should you ever fly from Bristol to Barcelona on EasyJet on a Thursday or Friday, there is almost guaranteed to be at least one hen party.
    The last time I did it there were two. Behind me sat one mother of the bride and a friend her own age (the bride and friends looked to be mid 30s or even a little older).
    I heard one line of dialogue: "I didn't come for her, I came for the piss-up." Which rather shocked me.
    The women all carried matching pink "goodie bags" from a named store...everyone started drinking immediately.
    It's all anthropology.
    I never saw anything like it in America, but I've lived abroad a long time.


The book!

View by topic



AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)