"May the 4th be with you." What started as pun warmly shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away.
One of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture is in 1979, as described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm:
Friday, May 4
“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”
Once the Internet allowed Star Wars fans around the world to connect with one another, May the 4th soon became a grassroots tradition each year, with fans online and offline proclaiming it “Star Wars Day.”
While the idea of May the 4th did not start with Lucasfilm, the film company that created Star Wars has fully embraced the spirit of fandom that makes the day so special. StarWars.com, as well as the official Star Wars social media channels (hashtag #StarWarsDay), help spread the word and showcase fan activity. More and more official partners have offered sales, giveaways, and exclusives, and have hosted parties and other activities to honor the day.
Ultimately, as Star Wars Day was created by the fans, it is truly their day. Hosting movie marathons, sharing greetings on social media, cooking Star Wars recipes -- there are no wrong ways to celebrate May the 4th, and each year we're amazed at the creative ways that fans mark the occasion. With Star Wars alive like never before, we hope you'll join in this year.
WHY DO JEDI, SMUGGLERS, DROIDS, SITH, AND STARSHIPS RESONATE WITH US SO MUCH? CHRIS TAYLOR, PABLO HIDALGO, AND STEVE SANSWEET DISCUSS.
A good story well told can have an impact that transcends generations. This is primarily due to the fact that a story carries with it an accurate portrayal of what we, as a society, value. It represents our cultural imperatives, values, and biases, as well as our greatest desires and fears. They capture our imagination, take us to far away, exotic locales, and inspire us to believe in something beyond ourselves.
While no one really knows when the first story was told, scholars do know that storytelling has been important for a very long time. Synonymously, the earliest storytellers were held in high esteem in their respective culture, since a good storyteller had to not only explain the world around them, but also had to create a medium that was powerful, visual, and unforgettable. Paper was not yet invented, and the wonders of the universe were not fully understood. As a result, a good storyteller was indispensable to preserve each culture’s unique traditions. The storyteller had to capture what mattered, and bring it across generations, to help preserve the core themes and values of the civilization. Out of this necessity, mythology was born, and the art form of storytelling was conceived.
Perhaps no story has more powerfully captured the minds and hearts of our culture quite like Star Wars. For so many of us, the work of George Lucas ushered in a new mythology that changed the way we think about the world around us. Not only has Star Wars changed the way movies are made, marketed, and experienced, but it also continually taps into the zeitgeist of why stories are relevant today. Star Wars is renown for its visual splendor and captivating characters, but it also encapsulates the values, dreams, and fears that are essential to us as a society. It inspires and entertains us in many unique ways. On May the 4th, we celebrate the wonder of our beloved galaxy far, far away, and reflect on why Star Wars is the great modern mythology for our times.
ON STAR WARS DAY, FANS REFLECT ON WHAT A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY MEANS TO THEM.
It is a period of intensified fandom. New Star Wars movies, filmed at secure locations, have started to trickle into the world. During this time, fans have flocked to theaters to see The Force Awakens and to YouTube to watch the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story over and over again. Fueled by a desire to demonstrate their fondness and passion for the galaxy far, far away, fans are coming together to celebrate on a special day: May the 4th.
To help them show the entire universe their true feelings, I talked to a handful of fans about what Star Wars has meant to them and how the addition of new films is changing the game.
Michael Jason Francis first encountered Star Wars when he saw The Empire Strikes Back in theaters. He was five years old and clearly remembers seeing Darth Vader and two stormtroopers walk past him. And Darth Vader would stick with him. “Star Wars means two things for me,” Francis says. “Hope and redemption. Growing up, my father was an abusive alcoholic. It was bad. I could never understand what could have made him this way and how could I be part of him. I had to believe that there was some part of him that was good, some part that connected us. Like Luke, I felt the goodness within him. Luke and Darth Vader’s relationship gave me hope. To make a long story short, I found that goodness in him, and now, he is an amazing grandfather to my two kids.”
MAY THE 4TH WILL BE WITH YOU, ALWAYS.
Just in case you’re in need of some inspiration, StarWars.com has compiled a list of fun ways you can celebrate your love of a galaxy far, far away.
Have a Star Wars movie marathon with friends and family! Where do you start? The Phantom Menace seems logical, but maybe a mini-marathon of Rogue One and A New Hope would provide just enough Star Wars for an evening. Do you mix in some episodes of Star Wars Rebels? It’s your day, so decide yourself you must.
Dressing up for special occasions is important, and May the 4th is no different. Wearing anything from your favorite Star Wars t-shirt to full-on stormtrooper gear is completely acceptable. (It’s okay to dress up your pet, too. Bounty hunter bulldogs or Princess poodles are especially encouraged.)
Food is an essential part of any holiday. Whip up a galactic smorgasborg of Star Wars-themed recipes! Who could pass up a heaping helping of Maz and Cheese? Not us.