One of the most celebrated, and anticipated, American holidays occurred this week. And no, I am not talking about Patriots’ Day. It is the holiday that is not covered in any newscasts or daily papers, and they don’t sell decorations for it at Party City. I am, in fact, referring this past Wed., April 20, a day known as the Stoners’ New Year: 420.
If you didn’t know that it is the international code word for smoking marijuana-especially at 4:20 and on 4/20-you are not as with it as you may have thought. If you were one of the few that wasn’t in on the “secret” don’t worry, you are not alone. The term floats just below the radar of many baby boomer parents who are totally clueless about the vast underground that celebrates the term. Administration of both high schools and college campuses also tend to be oblivious to the fact that class sizes abruptly shrink on the infamous day in April. But you won’t see many students complaining.
For example, my 4/20 began with my arrival at my 9 a.m. class only to find a big “class cancelled” sign outside the door. Normally I would have thought nothing of it; however, when the same thing occurred in two other classes, I began to realize the pattern. Wouldn’t you? The one class I did attend had roughly 15 students missing in a normally 45-person class. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to insinuate anything. It is quite possible that those professors and students could have been ill, out of town, or just plain too tired to get out of bed. Coincidences are coincidences and like I said, I am not one to complain.
So why have so many embraced the 4/20 concept? 420 is a ritual of cannabis use that holds deep meaning for our subculture. From Vermont to California, Florida to Oregon, legions of pot smokers convened on Wednesday in groups large and small, in public and private, to light up a joint and protest the illegality of their beloved weed, which they claim has many medical benefits and manufacturing applications as hemp. It is believed the term originated in 1971. Five San Rafael High School students christen the term “4:20,” meeting daily at that hour to share a smoke under the school’s statue of Louis Pasteur. The original password: “420 Louis.” The pop-culture world has also utilized the code; the clocks in movies such as Pulp Fiction and Lost in Translation are set to 4:20.
So my advice to you is whether or not you participate in the certain activities that coincide with 4/20, next year, kick back, relax and enjoy the unofficial holiday with your fellow college students.
Keep in mind though…even though some law officials may be oblivious to the Stoners’ Holiday, it is still illegal, no matter what day of the year.
Lauren Knight can be conacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.