420 Tradition

Theo recalls learning a tradition from his friends in high school regarding an unofficial holiday celebrated by people who smoke marijuana. He was about 14 at the time, attending school in Princeton, NJ.

Theo says he first learned this tradition on his first April 20 (4/20), a day when pot-smokers celebrate their favorite green, usually by smoking profusely for most of the day. It was the night before 4/20, and he and his friends all prepared by making sure they had adequate amount of marijuana to smoke the next day. Then, they waited up until it was 4:20 AM, and each of them smoked their own “persy” (personal) joint to celebrate the first of two 4:20’s they would experience that day.

When I asked him what he thought about this tradition, he replied,  “I still do it to this day. Why not make the most of a day where literally everyone who might ever smoke IS smoking?” Even though he (and many) is an avid, regular marijuana smoker, for some reason, this holiday enthuses even the most common smoker.

The interesting thing is, no one seems to know why it’s celebrated on 4/20. Even Theo wasn’t sure. He said, “Uh, I don’t really know why. I think I heard somewhere that it’s Bob Marley’s birthday, or … another reason but I can’t remember why. It’s just synonymous with smoking weed somehow.” It doesn’t really surprise me that the pot smokers wouldn’t feel like they needed to know exactly WHY they were smoking on that day, simply that they were ALL smoking together. It provides a sense of unity and identity to a folk group, and there is variation and multiplicity in events occurring on this day. Therefore, to celebrate 4/20 at all is to participate in performing folklore.