Happy National Weed Day everyone!
The parkade where I lay my homeless little head at night is kept tidy. The concrete floor is swept periodically, burned-out lights are changed promptly and spray-painted graffiti is painted over almost instantly.
Yet, for some reason, a large patch of chalk graffiti has been left undisturbed for at least five years. Among the red, white, yellow and blue chalk scrawls, one graffito stands out; it’s the time “4:20”, topped by a sketchy spray of marijuana leaves.
The use of “420” and its equivalents on the clock (“4:20”) and the calender (“4/20”) as a code for marijuana consumption is said to stem (cough) from a group in San Rafael, California, who arranged, way back in 1971, to get together a few times at exactly 4:20 p.m., so they could search for a fabled marijuana crop, said to have been abandoned.
It has nothing to do with the well-known nursery rhythm “Sing a Song of Sixpence“, which begins:
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
And likewise, there’s no connection to the famous American thoroughbred racehorse of the 1960s named Four-and-Twenty (after the nursery rhythm), which was bred and raced by a Canadian ranch out of Alberta, Canada.
“Four and twenty” is an old way of saying “24” and harkens back to the influence on English of the German language, where “24” is still written as “vier und zwanzig”, or rather just vierundzwanzig.