Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
4 May 2022
2:34 pm

May the 4th be with you: What is Star Wars Day and how did it start?

Citizen Reporter

It is believed that former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher could also have inspired the phrase widely used to celebrate 'Star Wars Day'.

Picture: iStock

45 years after the first Star Wars movie hit cinema screens, fans worldwide are still obsessed with the American space-opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas.

Currently the fifth highest-grossing media franchise of all time, its total value was estimated at US$70 billion in 2020.

For those who are not familiar with the Star Wars movies, the story of the original trilogy focuses on Luke Skywalker’s quest to become a Jedi, his struggle with the evil Imperial agent Darth Vader, and the struggle of the Rebel Alliance to free the galaxy from the clutches of the Galactic Empire.

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How many Star Wars movies are there?

There are nine movies in the main episodic Skywalker saga, two stand-alone Star Wars stories and 1 TV film.

While the Skywalker Saga has finished, there are multiple new Star Wars movies and TV shows still to come.

When did ‘May the 4th be with you’ start?

According to the official Star Wars website, the Star Wars fan holiday has no single point of origin.

However, it says the earliest uses of the phrase “May the 4th be with you” dates back to 1978, a year after the release of Star Wars: A new Hope.

Initially, however, newspaper writers used the phrase as a gimmick to mark Independence Day celebrations on 4 July.

The phrase “May the Force be with you” as heard in the first movie appeared on various posters and items for months.

Another point of possible origination of the phrase was in the United Kingdom on 4 May 1979 when Britain’s new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, assumed office on that day.

A writer for The London Evening News wrote a clever line to share his well-wishes. “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,” he wrote.

After the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith in 2005, a newspaper ad sporting Yoda, a background of red-white-and-blue fireworks, and “May the Fourth Be With You” was created as a marketing tool to get audiences back in movie theatres.

And that’s how the unofficial holiday was started.

Historian Lucas O. Seastrom at LucasFilm wrote that the phrase is a grassroots phenomenon that now transcends the English language pun that inspired it.

Here are some of the best social media reactions, memes and videos in celebration of Star Wars Day:

Compiled by Xanet Scheepers