Star Wars fans don’t need an excuse to celebrate the movie and television franchise that is the focal point of every conversation they have. But they’ve got a good one anyway. You see, Tuesday, May 4 is known around the world (and perhaps beyond) as Star Wars Day. Why May 4? Because “May the Fourth be with you.”
Get it? If you don’t, then I’m worried about you, because it’s a pun based on one of the most famous lines of dialogue uttered in a Star Wars film, or any film for that matter. In Episode IV – A New Hope, it’s Luke Skywalker’s mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi who says “May the Force be with you.” The American Film Institute ranked Kenobi’s line #8 on a list of the top 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.
Origin of “May The Fourth Be With You”
Let’s go back to the punny version of Kenobi’s quote. “May the Fourth be with you.” Where do you think it originated? Maybe a clever Star Wars fan made it up? Maybe it came straight from Lucasfilm itself?
Neither is true. You’re going to find this truly bizarre, but according to Newsweek, it was the Tories who came up with it. That’s right, I’m talking about the UK’s conservative party. When Margaret Thatcher became prime minister on May 4, 1979, the Tories took out a newspaper ad that said, “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.”
That was just two years after Star Wars: A New Hope was released. But while die-hard Star Wars fans were tickled pink, it would be another couple of decades before the pun would be appreciated by mainstream pop culture. That’s according to Dan Madsen, founder of the Official Lucasfilm/Star Wars Fan Club. “It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the Star Wars holiday became much more in the public eye due to the fact that fans were using it constantly on social media,” he told Reader’s Digest.
Star Wars Day 2021
So, what exactly do Star Wars fans do on Star Wars Day in 2021? They talk about it ad nauseum on social media. Then they have raging Star Wars parties, where they watch all the movies (in order, thank you very much), dine on snacks that look like Death Stars and lightsabers and Salacious B. Crumb the Kowakian monkey-lizard (Yeah, I looked that one up. Check out his photo, below.), and cheer each other on as they make fevered online purchases of the latest Star Wars toys, t-shirts, and other merchandise.
But with the pandemic still in play, it’s likely that the bulk of this year’s Star Wars parties will take place on Zoom. Lame!
Now, check this out. Madsen told Reader’s Digest that one of his favorite May the Fourth events involves a group of costumed Star Wars fans called the 501st, which is named after Darth Vader’s elite battalion of stormtroopers. (That’s a brigade of them in the photo above.) The 501st visits children’s hospitals to bring a bit of Star Wars to sick kids.
“The 501st doesn’t just do this on May the Fourth,” Madsen said. “They make appearances all year round, but May the Fourth is special. You can imagine how the kids’ eyes light up when Darth Vader and his stormtroopers come walking into their room!”
May the Fourth be with you!