saving your fingers from typing the website into your address bars...
4/20: The Origin of an Underground Holiday
It’s ironic that a relatively new holiday which celebrates a drug known for its short term memory loss has such an incredibly hazy history, but that is exactly the case with 4/20.
4/20 is a relatively recent phenomenon, yet its origins are more obscure than most ancient holidays. Everybody knows that Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, because that’s when Jesus died, and Easter is always on April 16th because that’s what some Jewish dude told me once. But why is 420 called “420,” and not “430” or “520” or “660?”
I know what you’re thinking, “Because nobody gets high on June 60th, you morron.” But you’re missing the point. (And if I’m the moron, why did you spell it with two R’s you fucking idiot?) I wanted to know the origins of this magical number. Why is this digit even associated with marijuana culture? After extensive research/napping, I was able to find the five main theories behind this magical number. And here they are, in no particular order, other than reverse alphabetical:
God invented marijuana on 420 A.D. : This theory relies on the “If you can’t disprove it, it must be true” method of fact-finding. Or at least it did. Then I looked up the history of marijuana and realized that cannabis has been used as a medicinal herb for 4,800 years. Goddammit. I really thought this one was true. All right, we might as well keep going.
The Birthday Effect: Yes, April 20th is Adolph Hitler’s birthday, and yes Hitler was a known marijuana enthusiast, but I think he was best known for other things. (Like his cute mustache) However, April 20th is also Snoop Dogg’s half birthday. It’s still unclear whether or not Snoop Dogg smokes marijuana because smoking marijuana is illegal and Snoop Dogg, last I heard, was not in jail. However, perhaps this rap star's pro-cannabis persona is enough to inspire such a drug related celebration. I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Moving on.
A group of teens used to smoke at 4:20pm: Many believe the origin of 420 is due in large part to a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in California in the 1970’s used to get high every day after school at 4:20pm. This theory is obviously not true because if these “teenagers” did in fact “smoke pot” every day at “4:20” in the “70’s” then they probably died in the early 80’s from overdosing on apathy. Next theory please!
Do The Math: If every letter of the alphabet was assigned a number with A - 1 and Z - 26, the 420th would be… ummm. Can you hold on a second, actually? Fuck, I wrote this down yesterday. When my friend explained this to me it made so much sense. Shit. How did it spell out “WEED?” Maybe it was the Chinese alphabet? God. Now I don’t even remember if it was a math alphabet thing at all. I think he just spelled “Weed” with his finger in dust on the back of some car. God I’m so confused. Okay, moving on.
Smoking 420 pounds of marijuana will kill you: This is one theory that is actually, scientifically true. Ask any medical doctor or drug tradesman and he will agree. But why would marijuana-enthusiasts cling on to such a morbid number? Perhaps it is to remind everybody, that smoking pot, while fun and games for the first couple hundred pounds, is potentially very dangerous.
Obviously there are more, but those are the five main theories behind the origin of "4/20." I'm not here to choose an answer, or to tell you which one is right. That wouldn't be fair (or possible). I'm just here to present choices, options. Think of it as a menu. Each theory is like a deep fried appetizer... so delicious, so cheap... you don't wanna eat just one... Oh god, delicious theory jalapeno poppers... chicken theory fingers... ugh... theory on a stick...
Amir Blumenfeld was a co-author for The CollegeHumor Guide to College, and wrote the majority of it completely sober. Get it now at your local college bookstore or at Amazon.com!
Posted by Amir Blumenfeld on April 20, 2006 | Link