What Is Star Wars Day? The History Of May The 4th Be With You
Here's why May 4 is such a big deal.
May the 4th be with you. You'll see people online writing that every single year on this date, and it seems a little weird, right? It feels weird to write it today. Every year, May 4 is widely considered to be Star Wars Day, where fans across the globe celebrate the sci-fi franchise. But what does it mean and where does it come from?
Star Wars: A New Hope hit theaters on May 25, 1977. The movie was a smashing success making over $775 million globally. Keep in mind, this is 1977 and getting close to that $1 billion mark during that time was huge. It was already a cultural phenomenon, just after one movie. And 44 years later, it's still going strong.
Obviously, the phrase "May the 4th be with you" is based on "May the Force be with you," something said numerous times in the Star Wars films. However, the phrase "May the fourth be with you" has some pretty interesting origins. It wasn't someone from the world of Star Wars that coined the phrase. Back on May 4, 1979, to celebrate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's victory, her political party took out an ad in the London Evening News which said, "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations." While we couldn't find an archived copy of that edition, Star Wars backs it up.
The phrase found its way into pop culture through various TV shows, books, and once again, the British government, but Star Wars Day didn't officially arrive until 2011. Sean Ward and Alice Quinn put together a celebration of all things Star Wars in Toronto, Canada. One year later, Star Wars Day happened again in Toronto with the same founders at the Toronto Underground Cinema, but this time, it caught the eye of the media, boosting its signal. Also, you get some real wonderful and cheesy CG of a local news reporter holding a lightsaber.
The event featured screenings of fan films, trivia, a costume contest, and more. It also had its first celebrity guest: Chad Vader, a supermarket employee who wears a Darth Vader uniform that was a YouTube sensation in 2011. The origins to this being a celebrated fan holiday really start with Ward and Quinn's work in Toronto.
In 2013, Disney officially recognized Star Wars Day for May 4--just months after Disney purchased Lucasfilm. Since then, the day has been about celebration of the franchise, release of new collectibles, and in 2021, Disney+ launched the first episode of its new original series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch--a spinoff of the wildly-popular The Clone Wars animated show.
If you need more Star Wars in your life right now, there are a lot of cool deals you can check out, like all the games and collectibles discounts for various Star Wars products. Palpatine's Force FX Lightsaber is on sale for 50% off today, and speaking of lightsabers, Disney recently revealed a working lightsaber in a new video.