May the Fourth Be With You: the origins of Star Wars Day and how it is being celebrated

May 4 has become officially known as Star Wars Day, thanks to a play on one of the franchise's most famous phrases

Star Wars fans pose in costume on Star Wars Day inside the Taipei 101 building in Taipei, Taiwan. EPA
Star Wars fans pose in costume on Star Wars Day inside the Taipei 101 building in Taipei, Taiwan. EPA

It might just feel like any other Tuesday, but today is a truly important day in certain cultural circles. Today is Tuesday, May 4 – Star Wars Day.

For the uninitiated, fans of George Lucas’s sci-fi franchise have officially adopted May 4 as their holiday, thanks to a play on one of the most famous lines from the films: “May the force be with you.”

In recent years, you will likely have seen Yoda-themed memes shared across social media and the #StarWarsDay hashtag trending each May 4, but the origins of the day date back far, far before the days of Twitter and Instagram.

The origins of Star Wars Day

While it isn’t clear exactly when people started to celebrate May 4 as Star Wars Day, newspaper records trace the first use of “May the Fourth Be With You” back to 1979. The phrase was used in an advertisement placed by the Conservative Party in the London Evening News, congratulating Margaret Thatcher on her ascendance to Prime Minister. “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations,” the ad read.

In the years that followed, the pun continued to make its way into politics and popular culture, and in 2008, the first official Facebook group was created to mark the day, although then, it was called Luke Skywalker Day.

Three years later, the first official in-person celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Canada, featuring trivia quizzes, game shows, screenings and a costume competition.

In 2013, after Disney purchased Lucasfilm, Star Wars Day was fully embraced and a number of special events were held at Disneyland and Walt Disney World to mark the occasion.

How is Star Wars Day 2021 being celebrated?

Google celebrates Star Wars Day with themed virtual confetti. Courtesy Google
Google celebrates Star Wars Day with themed virtual confetti. Courtesy Google

Google is marking Star Wars Day 2021 with a special treat for those who search the term (or any other Star Wars-related terms). Those who do will be treated to a virtual confetti explosion raining down across their screen, featuring some of the franchise’s most well-known characters, including Yoda, C-3PO and Chewbacca.

Disney is also using the day to launch its latest Star Wars spin-off series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The animated series, streaming on Disney+ and OSN, follows members of a unique squad of clones attempting to find their way in a changing galaxy in the aftermath of the Clone War.

And of course, there is plenty of meme-sharing happening.

Britain's National Trust is getting in on the action:

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver cooked up some Jedi-inspired pancakes while in costume:

While some fans took the opportunity to share old pictures from the original films:

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Updated: May 4, 2021 06:27 PM

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