A bachelorette party or bridal celebration before a wedding is found in most cultures in some way, but they often differ widely. What we see on the streets of the west is likely to look completely alien to women in Asia let’s say.
America and the UK have the bachelorette parties you will recognise. In America weddings are preceded by a Bridal shower where presents are given to the bride to be. In the UK a bachelorette party is called a hen party. The names etymology is up for debate but most likely it is in response to the bachelor party being called a stag do in the UK. With the men allowed an animal it is only fair that the women have their own version. In these “hen parties” there is heavy emphasis, as there is in much of the UK, on alcohol and hen parties are a common sight at night on the streets of major cities. It is not just domestic either as the phenomenon of the hen party has grown into a travel business, as more and more parties travel abroad for a whole weekend. Some of the most popular destinations are Barcelona and Amsterdam.
Common themes on the nights out involve dressing in fancy dress, and a scary amount of phallic symbology.
In Germany they have a more unusual tradition which harks back to its pagan past. They have something called Polterabend which involves the smashing of porcelain. Often it takes place outside the brides family home. It is reminiscent of greek traditions or Jewish weddings. Instead this custom is said to have come from a time when old Germany was broken up into tribes. The smashing of plates and pots created shards which they claimed kept evil spirits away with their edges. A direct translation of Polterabend is Poltern = making loud noises, and abend = evening. This pretty much exactly describes what will be going on at the occasion.
Far away from Europe is the culturally distinct Arab and Asian world. Here the loud and brash parties we assimilate with pre weddings are much more sedate. In the middle-east and Arabic countries henna painting is a tradition in most pre wedding parties. The practice is done in the hope of purifying the bride and keeping her away from evil spirits (something that seems a popular trend with these types of celebrations!).
In India, the women gather before the wedding to paint the bride with intricate designs on both the hands and feet called mehndi. When the weddings in India last multiple days, it is understandable you might want an understated celebration beforehand.
South Africa have a tradition that is unique to them. Unlike western countries who like to party, in South Africa they like to take things a bit slower. They enjoy a simple afternoon tea with a twist. The event is called kitchen tea and as the name suggests every gift given to the bride must be related to the kitchen. This is because in the past she would be moving in with her new husband and away from the family home for the first time. Nowadays this is less the case as many women will have lived independently before a wedding, but the tradition still stands. This is probably the only place where the giving of a microwave is seen as a romantic gesture!