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Who Started “May The Fourth Be With You”

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Star-Wars-blog

Every year fans across the galaxy celebrate Star Wars.

Star Wars, the American epic space opera. A media franchise like none other. Centered on a film series created by George Lucas, it depicts the adventures of characters from  “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”.

Most know the story, many have seen the movies. But where did this whole “May The Fourth Be with You” come from? After all Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977, followed by The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980. Still no May 4th? And growing up in that time frame, I never heard anyone say…”Hey, Ha, May the fourth be with you”. 

It actually had nothing to do with Star Wars.

Yep, it’s true!

The term actually had nothing to do with Star Wars or any of the other Lucasfilm films.

Apocryphally, the reference was first used on May 4, 1979, the day Margaret Thatcher took office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I know….. mind blowing right!

An online news article from a Danish public broadcaster on Thatcher’s political party, the Conservatives, placed a congratulatory advertisement in The London Evening News, saying “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations!”

The saying was used in a UK Parliament defense debate on May 4,1994.

Then in the 1999 book, The Science of Star Wars, Astrophysicist and author Jeanne Cavelos used the saying on page 94.

Then came social media

It was in 2008 on Facebook where groups first appeared celebrating “Luke Skywalker Day“, with the phrase, ”May The Fourth Be With You”. While that initial group (I have no idea who and what group it was) never received any widespread acclaim, the phenomenon spread to Geeks across campuses and the country. A  few years later,it was declared Star Wars Day.

 

The Gatherings

In 2011, the first organized celebration of Star Wars Day  took place at the Toronto Underground Cinema. The festivities included a costume contest with celebrity judges; the web’s best tribute films, parodies, and remixes on the big screen and an Original Trilogy Trivia Game Show. Produced by Sean Ward and Alice Quinn.

Oh how things have changed.

Since Disney purchased Lucasfilms, including the rights to Star Wars in late 2012, it would only seem right that The Walt Disney Company officially started observing the holiday.

Star Wars Meets Disney

It started slow. Several Star Wars events and festivities at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2013.  And then it started to grow. And a huge demand for Star Wars celebrations packed the parks on those days. 

The popularity was clear to Disney, and the celebration  of the space opera that connects multiple generations was about to get even bigger!

With a park that was in need of some out of this world help, Hollywood Studios would become home to the Star Wars Celebration weekends.  

Mega Merchandise Empire

Minor League baseball teams such as the Toledo Mud Hens and the Durham Bulls have worn special uniforms as part of Star Wars Day promotions.

Everything from Parody T-Shirts to All day Star Wars movie marathons, May the 4th has caught on.

On Star Wars Day 2015, astronauts in the International Space Station watched Star Wars.

Galaxy's Edge

To enhance the May the Fourth experience to an every day celebration, Disney has been working on the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with out of this world themed Resort accommodations.

Galaxy’s Edge is an upcoming Star Wars-themed area being developed at both Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort in AnaheimCalifornia just outside of Los Angeles, California, as well as Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Bay LakeFlorida just outside of Orlando, Florida. It will encompass 14 acres at each park.

The lands were announced August 2015, construction at both parks began on April 14, 2016 and is now nearly complete.

Disney Parks’ anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, will open at Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, California) on May 31 and at Walt Disney World Resort (Orlando, Florida) on August 29. [Walt Disney Imagineering executive Scott Trowbridge is supervising the development of the new land at both parks]

So as we go into May 4th…. now when someone says, “May The Fourth Be With You” you can explain to them where this whole thing really came from. 

This post was originally published on 5/4/2018 and updated on 5/4/2019.

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Mike Blue

Mike Blue

Freelance writer, photographer, and vegan foodie

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