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A bachelor party (in the United States), also known as a stag party, stag night, stag do (in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand), or a buck's night (in Australia) is a party held for a man shortly before he enters marriage, to celebrate his "last night of freedom" or merely to spend time with his male or female friends, who are often but may not be at his wedding party afterwards. A bachelor party is usually planned by the best man or other friends of the groom, occasionally, with the assistance of a bachelor party planning company and paid by the Groom.
The equivalent event for the bride-to-be is known as a bachelorette party or hens' night. Formally, a party in honor of the bride is hosted by others.
Some also choose instead to hold a so-called Stag and Doe party in the US, or a hag party or hag do in the UK ("hag" being a combination of the words "hen" and "stag"), in which both the bride and groom attend.
In Germany, this event is called Junggesellenabschied. There is also a separate event that the couple celebrates together on the evening prior to their wedding, called Polterabend. At the Polterabend the guests break old porcelain and earthenware to bring luck to the couple's marriage. The tradition is said to go back to pre-Christian times; by noisily breaking ceramics evil spirits – especially spirits of envy – are supposed to be driven out. In the last couple of years, Anglo-style bachelor parties have become more and more popular among bachelors. In parts of northern Germany that lack a Carnival tradition, funny costuming has become a popular part of bachelor or bachelorette parties.
Some parts of Germany have a related custom, in which a person who is not yet married by their 30th birthday, is made to dress up in an embarrassing fashion by their friends and to do silly tasks that most often include some kind of cleaning work.
In France and in many French-speaking regions such as Quebec, the bachelor party is called enterrement de vie de garçon, which literally means "(the) burial of the life as a boy" or "burial/funeral of the life as a bachelor". For women it is enterrement de vie de jeune fille, translated as "burial/funeral of the life as a young girl/maiden". As in English-speaking countries, such parties often feature heavy drinking and various (although gentle) humiliations, and sometimes the presence of a stripper.
In the United Kingdom, it is now common for the party to last for more than one evening, hence the increasing prevalence of the phrase "stag weekend", or "stag do". A spin off has been the growth of the stag weekend industry in the UK with various companies taking over the preparation of the event.
In the UK, stag weekend trips are becoming mini-holidays with the groups taking part in various day-time activities as well as the expected night out on the town. With the rise of budget airlines, some stags in the UK go abroad, with Krakow, Dublin, and Riga topping the list, followed by Prague, Amsterdam, Bratislava, and Budapest. Stag parties abroad have been known to involve visits to brothels and prostitutes, which then may encourage sex trafficking of vulnerable women.
In the United States, Las Vegas is both a popular bachelor party destination and location for the wedding itself. Increasingly, "destination bachelor parties" are replacing standard nights out, with Americans traveling to Montreal, Quebec or Mexico.
Bachelor parties in the US often entail the mass consumption of alcohol, hiring a stripper, and general rowdiness toward which the bride might not have a positive reaction (especially since the bride is typically not among the invitees). Increasingly, bachelor parties have come to symbolize the last time when the groom is free of the influence of his new wife.
Canadian cities such as Vancouver or Niagara Falls are popular stag party destinations due to their large number of strip clubs with "dance contact" (lap dancing). Montreal in particular is popular for this purpose with both Canadians and Americans alike.
In recent years, however, the "traditional" bachelor party with drinking and strippers has often changed to a less rowdy and more reflecting time with friends. Many grooms-to-be have instead been treated to camping trips with friends, fishing trips, pizza contests, baseball games, video games, poker, barbecuing, and other activities. Generally, the best man will plan an activity in secret with friends that they feel the groom will enjoy.
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