420 Meaning: The History Behind 420 (4/20, and 4:20)

420 Meaning: The History Behind 420 (4/20, and 4:20)

If you love smoking herb all year round like us chances are you already know the meaning of 420 and the history behind the famous number. But for non smokers who are wondering what 420 means and where did it come from, we are going to break it down for you. Wether you are 420 friendly or not read on to understand the origin and meaning behind the famous number.Waldo for 420

The True Meaning Behind 420

It all started back in San Rafael, California. Here, a group of five high school students would hang out at a wall near their high school. The group would convene at 4:20 every day near a statue of Louis Pasteur. Pasteur was a scientist who made several notable breakthroughs in pasteurization. Allegedly, they would grab their bongs and search for an apparently-unattended patch of local weed. And here, they toked up for the duration of the car ride, and during their daily searches. But, they never found the gold (or green) mine.

To communicate discreetly about these activities, they would say “420-Louis” to remind each other of the meeting time. Eventually, they found themselves using this phrase to refer to any cannabis-related activity. Then, they shortened the phrase to simply “420." But how did this group of kids permeate national weed culture?

Grateful Dead Graphic for 420

A Grateful Connection With the Dead

The Grateful Dead, a musical and cultural embodiment of all things good vibes, moved to Marin County around the time of the Waldos. The father of one of the Waldos managed real estate for the Dead, and was able to inform them about local practicing spaces. Another of the Waldos had connections with the Dead’s bassist, Phil Lesh. The Waldos often smoked and listened to their band practice. Eventually, even the band came to associate the number with their favorite plant. Others caught on to the band using this as a euphemism, and the rest is history.

What 420 Means Today

Just like its origin story the numbers meaning still holds true. Except now it has a much more mainstream acceptance and significance. 420 is a national celebrated holiday where smokers all across the world light up and celebrate cannabis while also fighting for the right to make it legal in more states and countries.

420 takes place every year on April 20th (4/20) and is a celebration of cannabis. Many states hold massive rallies like the Boston Freedom rally in Boston where thousands of smokers show up to show their support for the cause and to light up with like minded enthusiasts.

420: Origin Myths & Popular Theories

And on the 420th day, God created herb. Well, nobody actually believes that (to our knowledge). But, we wouldn’t be surprised if some did. There are a lot of other common myths about the beginning 4/20 and how it became a nationally-observed holiday. Some people believe that it's a direct reference to Hitler’s birthday. Also, a lot of people think that it comes from the radio code California police officers use to report marijuana crimes. Additionally, you may have heard that Bob Marley and/or Jimi Hendrix passed away on 4/20. Many conspiracy theories theorize that it alludes to the Dylan song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." (Twelve times thirty-five equals 420.)

These theories all have varying degrees of credibility associated with them. However, none of them are the prevailing origin story.

clock showing the time 4:20

Final Thoughts

So, that’s the story of 4/20. What began as a discreet and obscure codeword among a group of high school deviants has transcended the sphere of smoking subculture and into the forefront of popular culture.

But, that’s not exactly what 4/20 is about. It's really about enjoying the little things in life: spending time with friends, ripping the bong and spontaneous, memorable adventures. So next time you see the clock strike 4:20 and smile to yourself a little bit now you know the real meaning behind the famous number and the kids who started it all.

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