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What Is 420? History of the Highest Holiday

what is 420?

It’s the most wonderful time of year and every stoner’s favorite holiday: 420! But what is 420 day, and where and when did it start? Like all great aspects of cannabis culture, 420 is a holiday full of mystery. Many enthusiasts debate its origin and have come up with many counter-narratives. These stories have culminated in a mythos mixing fact and fiction into a legendary tale.


But this year, we are here to give you a little education on our favorite holiday. Read on for facts to amaze your friends and entertain your smoke pals this 420. In this article, we will demystify the origins of 420, some ways that you can celebrate, and even some prep tips. So read further, and let’s dig it!


What Is 420?

The term 420 is slang for cannabis, including hemp and marijuana. This code word was a way to reference cannabis for many high school students without invoking any suspicion. Because of this association, 420 is now the name of the unofficial national holiday celebrating marijuana and the cannabis aficionados that built this culture. Naturally, this holiday takes place on April 20 or 4/20.


How is this holiday celebrated, you might ask? By consuming cannabis in any and all forms! Cannabis enthusiasts will gather together for group celebrations in many locations. Many cannabis legalization activists will also host events to bring awareness to their cause. However you choose to celebrate 420, you’ll be doing so as a part of a movement historically made up of activists, artists, comedians, musicians, politicians, and many more!



three stoners enjoying 420 at home



Origin of the Term 420

The origins of 420 are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Some of the many myths surrounding the origin of the term include: being the police code that police officers would use for marijuana; a reference to a story by H.P. Lovecraft; Adolf Hitler’s birthday; and Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” to name a few.


In reality, none of these things are true, and the myth of 420 comes from more humble and relatable origins, dating back to the early 1970s. The real origin comes from the shenanigans of five Californian high school students in their after-school smoke rituals!


The Waldos: The Originators of 420

In 1971, five students — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — made up a group of friends called “The Waldos.” The boys were known for their sense of humor, quick wits, and magnetic personalities, allowing them to blend into various social scenes and become popular figures in their hometown of San Rafael, Califonia, located in Marin County just north of San Francisco.


The name of their group was a reference to their common hangout spot on the wall outside of San Rafael High School. The boys would meet at a specific time — 4:20 pm — to look for an abandoned cannabis crop nearby, but they ended up smoking pot instead. The phrase “420” ultimately became a code word for their shenanigans. According to legend, the phrase started as “420 Louis”, a reference to the campus statue of Louis Pasteur that the boys would often smoke under. The group eventually shortened the phrase to “420,” thus solidifying one of the most important and widely used phrases in stoner culture!


And just in case you or anyone else doubts the legitimacy of their claim, The Waldo’s official website provides access to various artifacts and documents that support their claim to the 420 throne! In fact, the Waldos were well connected with legends like The Grateful Dead! The band used the phrase 420 frequently. It eventually caught on with their passionate fanbase and spread throughout cannabis culture to become the iconic term it is today.



How Did 420 Become a Holiday for Cannabis Enthusiasts?

While the term 420 initially served as a way for the Waldos to call for a smoke sesh, the term eventually evolved to represent an entirely new holiday! To the Waldos, 420 was just a secret phrase. But decades later, the phrase started to appear on shirts, became a rally chant, and was even referenced in movies!


Much of this spread is thanks largely to the devoted fanbase of the Grateful Dead. However, the phrase spread organically throughout cannabis culture.


Somewhere along the way, the number 420 became naturally associated with the calendar date 4/20 or April 20. Cannabis enthusiasts now had a day to celebrate marijuana and hemp culture! The unofficial holiday has taken political significance as a form of civil disobedience and has served as a celebratory way to advocate for the normalization of cannabis.


Is 420 a Worldwide Celebration?

Although American in origin, 420 is celebrated in many countries around the world! Every year on April 20, people who love smoking cannabis gather from all corners of the globe to enjoy, celebrate and partake in cannabis culture and everything related to these wonderful plants.


Besides getting their stone on, some ways the international community celebrates include events like:

  • 420 Hemp Fest: Milan, Italy’s very own cannabis festival, celebrates with 3 days of live music, stands, and events!
  • Spannabis: It’s Spain….mixed with cannabis. This premier cannabis event takes place in Spain’s gorgeous coastal city of Barcelona. On 420, you’ll find public talks and festivities for cannabis connoisseurs to enjoy.
  • Cannatrade: This is perhaps Europe’s oldest 420-themed event in Bern, Switzerland. This festival boasts various hemp food vendors, joint rolling competitions, and a chill-out area to relax in the haze of your fellow festival-goers.
  • High Times Magazine Cannabis Cup: This one is a heavy hitter. The official Cannabis Cup is where the world’s most premium cannabis cultivars go head to head and is so big that it’s gone international, moving from city to city each year. This festival is like the Shangri La for stoners, the promised land for finding the best and most sought-after strains in the world.


These are only a few of the many ways that people around the world celebrate 420. Countless other individuals celebrate in their own way. Many often get together with their own group of Waldos to goof off and enjoy the finer things in life while sharing a joint.



friends enjoying 420 celebrations



Popular Ways To Celebrate 420

On 4/20, people gather worldwide to celebrate the plant that remains restricted in many parts of the globe: cannabis. Pot smokers worldwide cherish April 20 (or 4/20) as a reason to toke up with friends and huge crowds each year. Besides participating in crowd sessions, there are many fun ways to celebrate. Here are some of them.


Binge Watch Stoner Movies

There are many to choose from, like “Cheech and Chong,” “Pineapple Express,” or even a weed-themed B-movie like “Evil Bong” or the classic “Reefer Madness”! Whatever you choose, movies are a classic complement to this holiday.


Cook a Cannabis-Infused Dish

Make yourself some edibles or even a full meal! Try cooking a special cannabis-infused treat with your favorite flower or some potent tincture on this special day.


Treat Yourself To Some 420 Day Deals

Sales abound on 420. Shop your favorite brands, and even stop by Hollyweed for great deals on your favorite hemp products! We offer 25% off on our products on 4/20!


Go To A 420 Event

Go to a talk or industry insider event for fun and informative info on this exciting and constantly evolving business. Or get your party on by going to one of the 420 festivals mentioned above! For our SoCal tribe, you can also check out these 420 events.


Jam Out to Some 420 Tunes

Put on a record and listen to some psychedelic classics from the 13th Floor Elevators, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Hendrix, or other cannabis classics! We all know how much cannabis enhances music listening, so why not spend the day jamming out?


Try Some Different Cannabinoids

There’s more to cannabis than just THC. There are various other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, HHC, and Delta 8, all of which you can find right here at Hollyweed! Broaden your horizons with one and see how varied and multifaceted cannabis can be.


Enjoy Some Sexual Cannabis Products

Cannabis has its role in many aspects of our lives. But many consumers might not realize its benefits in the bedroom. CBD lubes, body lotions, and more are a great option for spicing up your time with your significant other.


Sip Some Cannabis-Infused Drinks

April 20 is a great time to indulge in special cannabis-infused beverages! Pick up some THC syrup or CBD oil, or shop around for craft THC drinks so you can sip good while you enjoy the festivities!



Remember To Plan Ahead for Your 420 Day

All 420 veterans have been here: the day has finally come, but you somehow neglected to get the necessary supplies together for your day-long cannabis bash. So now you have everyone together, but there’s not a bud, paper, or bong in sight. You can avoid this sad circumstance with just a bit of planning!


Before the day comes, please do yourself a favor and stock up on all the necessary supplies. Buy papers, a lighter if you need, and as much flower as possible to make the most out of the year’s best holiday! Plan some fun activities, or spend some time decorating your space to experience the perfect relaxation den while you celebrate! Feeling adventurous? Plan for a trip to a 420 festival like the ones we mentioned!



hollyweed cannabis products



Hollyweed 420 Products

You can prepare for the holiday with a little help from Hollyweed! We have quite the selection if you’re looking for some Farm Bill compliant products to celebrate 420. Our products are hemp-derived, making them the perfect choice for celebrating 420 wherever you are in the United States!


Some of the types of products we offer include:

  • Delta 8 Products: We have vapes, flower, prerolls, and much more. Delta 8 Gummies is the newest cannabinoid on the block, sure to take you to cloud 9 with its euphoric and uplifting effects.
  • HHC Products: You can find HHC in vapes, HHC flower, CBD capsules, and tinctures. This cannabinoid is energizing and uplifting, making it the perfect companion for a day out.
  • CBD Products: Looking for a well-tolerated and soothing experience? CBD has got your back! We offer premium quality CBD flower, CBD vapes, tinctures, and more!



Final Thoughts – What Is 420 & How To Celebrate

It’s no secret anymore: 420 is a fascinating holiday with a rich history that we can all be a part of. It’s a time of celebration, defiance, and honoring our stoner forefathers and sisters. Starting as a name for a small after-school gathering, 420 has gone global, with festivals catering to friendly stoners worldwide.


Today, with the acceptance of cannabis culture at an all-time high, people all over the world will no longer have to hide or come up with secret ways to talk about this charming and highly beneficial plant. At Hollyweed, we’re committed to playing a part in providing, normalizing, and educating people on the various uses of cannabis and cannabinoids. Check out our shop to get some potent products, and may you have a happy and safe 420!

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