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Why Is It Called A Hen Party

Suzanne T.
Mon 16 Mar 20 14:38

Three women on a hen party wearing denim jackets and holding white flowers

Have you ever wondered why a hen party is called a hen party? In the US, the term is 'bachelorette party', which is self-explanatory. However, things aren’t quite so clear when it comes to the term used by pre-wedding celebrations in the UK and Ireland.

A Short History of Hens...in History

A hen is a name given to the female of any species of bird. Who knew? A hen do is an exclusively female gathering for a pre-wedding dinner and drinks (or a wild night on the tiles with L Plates, tequila shots and lots of drunk dancing to ‘It’s Raining Men’).

Over time, the hen party has become the commonly used term. Although it’s primarily a term used in the UK and Ireland, the first documented mention actually originates from the US. In 1940, First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, used the term when she hosted a Christmas event at The White House. As she'd invited women only, she chose to refer to it as a hen party.

Although the event didn't have anything to do with weddings...if it's good enough for the First Lady, it's good enough for us, right? Exactly.

Sisters Doing it For Themselves

Prior to the 1960s, women didn’t usually congregate in a group for a hen party. The pre-wedding night of fun was usually left to the male contingent. This was (and still is) known as a stag do. Men get together, drink beer, and do whatever else it is men do.

Clearly, at some point, we women came together and decided we shouldn’t be missing out on all the fun and so, hen parties started to grow in popularity.

It’s now pretty much unheard of for a bride not to have a hen do of some description before her big day. Luckily, although we do tend to get wild from time to time, there aren’t quite as many stories of women waking up tied to lamp posts as there are with the menfolk. We like to keep it as classy as we can.

Hen Do Vs. Bridal Shower

A hen do - particularly in the UK and Ireland - is the name for the women-only party that comes before the wedding. It usually involves a night out, or more recently, a weekend abroad. We usually put on our best dress and head out for a hen night on the town.

A bridal shower is a US term for a gift-giving party, which is far more serene than their hen do equivalent of a bachelorette party. Women known to the bride are invited to a home or venue and bring along gifts from a registry or list. Personally, we think the hen party is far more fun but we’re not here to judge.

Let’s just say they’re very different events and we know which one we want to be invited to.


And, so, there you have it: now you know why it is called a hen party. We hope you weren’t secretly hoping it had something to do with chickens. If you did and you’re now disappointed, we’re sorry but we can’t clucking lie just to keep you happy (see what we did there?). Sorry again. We’ll stop now.

To start planning your very own hen night out or a full hen weekend, check out our hen destinations in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

And if you have any questions about organising a hen party with The Foxy Hen, please get in touch! Or if you're just ready for some inspiration, then check out our ideas for:

Author: Suzanne T.

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