420 in Hyde Park: What Does It Look Like and What is theMeaning Behind It?

4/20 Hyde park Photo: Philip Openshaw Source : Shutterstock
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Category Columnists, Culture, Lifestyle, Town
Date April 22 2024
Reading Time 2 min.

420 in Hyde Park: What Does It Look Like and What is theMeaning Behind It?

Every year around the world, millions of people gather together on 20 April to celebrate 420 — the unofficial marijuanacelebration day. Although 420 is not an official holiday even in the countries where marijuana has been legalised or decriminalised, many people take the event very seriously. In big cities around the world, smokers come together in public parks, and the police usually makes no attempt to prevent mass consumption of the drug, and are attend such events solely to maintain a relatively calm atmosphere.

For stoners a subculture whose name comes from the English slang to get stoned(to get high) and whose only requirement to be affiliated with stoners is a desire and love for the almost fanatical use of marijuana, 420 is almost as joyous as Christmas. That said, mass gatherings of stoners on 420 are also considered to be a kind of protest against laws prohibiting the use, possession and distribution of the drug.

Thats why the traditional gathering of Stoners in Hyde Park on 20 April is better known as the 420 Rally. Stoners are considered to be mostly apolitical, but when it comes to ligalisation, things take a completely different turn: at the Hyde Park event, the public violently expresses active civic position and opposition to the government by smoking marijuana in the presence of the police.

Discontent with the government is especially strong if 420 is taking place just before the British General Election, as was the case in 2015. This time, despite the upcoming elections, 420 in Hyde Park was surprisingly peaceful: arrests were minimal, noloud remarks about the British government were made, and most people left the park before dark.

This year 20 April fell on a Saturday, so the public started gathering in the park quite early by 12pm small groups of people had already organised their own picnics, bringing plaids and camping chairs for comfort. There was a strong odour of marijuana in the air, and various tools for marijuana consumption were present: bongs of different sizes, pipes and joints. Some attendees came with special homemade treats brownies made with hemp oil, also known as edibles.

Traditionally, the main part of the celebration happens at 4:20pm. At this time, everyone in attendance simultaneously lightsmarijuana on, which on particularly windless days creates a huge cloud of smoke within the park. After this activity, the celebration comes to an end and the majority of the celebrants begin to disperse, often for an afterparty at home.

420 in Hyde Park is not short of celebrities from the Stoner culture. Every year rapper and comedian Big Narsty can be found there, and he was also present at this years event. In addition to him, rapper M Dot R was spotted, who rose to fame at the end of 2023 with his song Turn Red, which gained over 6 million views on TikTok. Both rappers support the legalisation of marijuana in the UK, which they have publicly stated many times.

The 420 tradition itself came to the UK from California, where the drug was legalised a few years ago. It is impossible to say exactly why the number 420 became a symbol of marijuana use, but the tradition started in the 70s. Some sources suggest that 420 is a reference to the line Everybody must get stoned from Bob Dylans song Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35, as multiplying 12 by 35 results in 420. The main explanation for this tradition is the story of a group of high school students from San Francisco who used 420 as a signal to each other of their intention to smoke marijuana after school. After graduation, the friends ended up in a Californian rocker scene and the tradition began to spread more widely, becoming one of the biggest unofficial holidays in the world by the beginning of the 21st century.

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