Pop culture has construed them to be full-blown nights of drunken debauchery for which no one is held accountable for the sinful shenanigans that transpire. They are the infamous bachelor and bachelorette parties—when spouses-to-be are customarily subjected to wild partying with friends before "settling down" into a stage of expected monogamy.
Opinions on such gatherings are hotly contested. Anti-partiers question the readiness and maturity of a fiance(e) wanting a "last taste of freedom." Pro-partiers question the naysayer's trust in the relationship. And then there is a whole gray area where a couple must determine how much is too much and what actions are inexcusable. Read: Why I Hated His Strip-Club Bachelor Party
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So why can't a group of friends simply gather to celebrate a friend's transition into a new life—without binge drinking, strippers and penis balloons? After all, the tradition's origins are actually quite conservative.
According to a recent Divine Caroline article, bachelor parties are thought to date back as far as the 5th century BC in Sparta, when soldiers would host a dinner in honor of a comrade's wedding. Now before images of 300-esque men in loincloth-clad revelry roll through your mind, the event was actually a very low-key affair.
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