Here in the UK, what happens on a hen do is quite a standard procedure that we all know and love (mostly). We invite all our best girlfriends, we do some fun hen party activities, we humiliate the bride a little with silly outfits, we enjoy a drink or three, we party.
But what happens on a hen party in other countries? Do the Dutch enjoy an assault course day? Do the Chinese head to a spa just like us? We’ve uncovered some different, and sometimes bizarre, hen do traditions from around the world.
Kitchen tea – South Africa/Australia/New Zealand
In South Africa, a hen party is more often known as a “Kitchen Tea”, which sounds like (and is) an altogether more sedate affair than what we are used to in the UK.
The Kitchen Tea is more akin to a Bridal Shower and usually takes place one afternoon before the wedding. The bride’s friends arrive with a gift that is suitable to be used in the bride’s (new) kitchen.
The idea is to ply the couple’s home with all the necessary home appliances and kitchen accessories to ensure they have a smooth start into married life.
Traditional Kitchen Tea gifts were mixing bowls, china plates and cutlery, however since many couples now already have a fully-stocked kitchen together before they are married, gifts now tend to be other items just for the bride.
What a relief because it seems a tad antiquated to us to assume that the bride is even interested in receiving items for her kitchen to presumably spend her days cooking for her husband, but that’s tradition for you!
Crying – China
In central China there is quite a strange pre-wedding custom that takes place, and it involves crying.
It stems from an ancient Chinese tradition of brides being expected to cry on their wedding day or they would be looked down upon for being uncultured by other villagers.
Nowadays it is less common, but once the bride starts crying, she is swiftly followed by her mother, grandmother, sisters and aunts. This can apparently go on for days or even weeks before the wedding!
India – Mehendi Party
In India, the closest equivalent to a hen do is the Mehendi Party. This is a party thrown in the run up to the wedding, often the day before, to celebrate the bride’s upcoming marriage. Traditionally, the bride will have beautiful and intricate designs painted on her hands and arms by a henna artist.
The patterns used represent luck, love a positivity and there is often great food and raucous dancing at the Mehendi party too.
France – A Burial?!
In France there is a rather morbid hen party custom which is known as “Enterrement de vie de jeune fille” which basically translates as “Burial of life as a young woman.” Lovely.
It sometimes even involves a coffin containing items from life before the couple decided to marry which is actually buried.
Argentina – Public Nudity!?
Poor Argentinian brides might face a rather embarrassing event in the run up to their marriage. In the past, brides would be driven around the town naked in order to announce their upcoming nuptials!
We can only image this was to let the rest of the town’s men know what they’d missed out on but we hope this doesn’t happen too often now, for the bride’s sake.
This is certainly one of the most bizarre hen do traditions from around the world!
Germany – Plate Smashing
German brides take the pre-wedding celebrations very seriously and there are usually not one but two types of hen party before they marry.
Firstly, it is common to gather up your best friends and head out for the day dressed in the silliest outfit you can imagine, while wielding a box of goodies that you are tasked with selling to the general public!
The goodies are usually small items such as packs of tissues, lighters, and shots. These are sold for a couple of Euros each to willing passers by with the idea being that this will help fund the bride’s final night of freedom!
Secondly, there is the Polterabend. This usually takes place the night before the wedding and involves the bride and groom smashing plates together with their friends and family. It is thought that this will bring the couple good luck.
The German word for hen party is also one of the best and longest words you’ll ever have the delight of not being able to pronounce: Junggesellenabschiedsfeier.
South Korea – Throwing Chesnuts
Rather than celebrating before the wedding, in South Korea there is a ceremony after the marriage called Pyebaek.
Usually just family is present and it involves older members of the family throwing Korean dates and chesnuts (which are supposed to represent children) at the bride which she has to try and catch in her skirt.
Talk about pressure! Just another strange wedding tradition from around the world.
Mauritania – Fattening Up The Bride
While not a specific hen party tradition, there is a pre-wedding custom in Mauritania which involves the bride eating as much as possible in order to be ‘fattened up’ ready for the wedding. Sounds good to us.
In this country in Northwest Africa, the bigger the bride the better!
Scotland – Soot For Luck
In Scotland a type of hen party know as “Blackening the Bride” used to be commonplace and still happens in more rural areas. This has got to be one of the most strange hen party traditions around the world!
It started off with applying soot to the feet as it was thought to be lucky, but then developed into a much messsier affair!
The bride (and also the groom) would be covered in any kind of sticky substance, often a mixture of eggs, butter, flower, treacle, boot polish and feathers. Locals would throw this at the bride as she is paraded around the town.
All sounds rather bizarre!
America – The Classic Bachelorette
In the states, the birthplace of the hen do as we know it, a hen party is usually called a Bachelorette Party or a Bridal Shower. Since our celebrations are based on American ones, their traditions don’t differ much from British hen dos.
Who knows, you might love one of these foreign hen party traditions so much that you decide to use if for your own!
If none of these foreign hen party traditions float your boat, check out our list of the best hen party ideas in the UK.
What is your favourite hen party custom from elsewhere in the world? Would you consider trying out any of these ideas at your own hen do?
Let us know in the comments!