Star Wars Day is an informal commemorative day observed annually on 04 May to celebrate George Lucas’s Star Wars media franchise. Observance of the day spread quickly through media and grassroots celebrations since the franchise began in 1977.
The date originated from the pun “May the Fourth be with you”, a variant of the popular Star Wars catchphrase “May the Force be with you”. Even though the holiday was not created or declared by Lucasfilm, many Star Wars fans across the world have chosen to celebrate the holiday. It has since been embraced by Lucasfilm and parent company Disney as an annual celebration of Star Wars.
The first recorded reference of the phrase being used was on 04 May, 1979, the day Margaret Thatcher took the job as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. An online news article from the Danish public broadcaster says her political party, the Conservatives, placed a congratulatory advertisement in The London Evening News, saying “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.”
In the 1988 episode of Count Duckula The Vampire Strikes Back, a space faring superhero, Tremendous Terrance ask Duckula the date, and is told, May the Fourth. As Terrance departs, he tells all below May the Fourth Be With You.
The saying was used in a UK Parliament defence debate on 04 May 1994.
Astrophysicist and author Jeanne Cavelos used the saying on page 94 of her 1999 book The Science of Star Wars.
In 2008, the first Facebook groups appeared, celebrating Luke Skywalker Day, with the same catchphrase.
In 2011, the first organised celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Produced by Sean Ward and Alice Quinn, festivities included an Original Trilogy Trivia Game Show; a costume contest with celebrity judges; and the web’s best tribute films, mash-ups, parodies, and remixes on the big screen. The second annual edition took place on Friday 04 May 2012.
Fans (even government officials, such as Boris Johnson) have celebrated Star Wars in a variety of ways in social media and on television.
Since 2013, The Walt Disney Company has officially observed the holiday with several Star Wars events and festivities at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, including the rights to Star Wars, in late 2012. The finale of Series 07 of The Clone Wars was made available on Disney+ on 04 May 2020. Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), as well as an eight-episode documentary series titled Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (2020), were also made available on Disney+ the same day. A new animated series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch will also premiere on Disney+ on this day in 2021.
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.
On Star Wars Day 2015, astronauts in the International Space Station watched Star Wars.
Also in 2015, the carillon bells inside the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada played “The Imperial March” theme from Star Wars, among other space-related tunes.
Revenge of the Fifth/Sixth
Some recognise the following day, 05 May, as “Revenge of the Fifth”, a play on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) and celebrate the Sith Lords and other villainous characters from the Star Wars series rather than the Jedi. Others celebrate this one day later, on 06 May, citing “Revenge of the Sixth” as a better play on “Sith”, while others refer to the 6th as “Return of the 6th” as a play on the trilogy aspect of the Star Wars films.
The Los Angeles City Council declared 25 May 2007, as Star Wars Day, in honour of the 30th anniversary release date of the original Star Wars film (1977). A separate initiative for observing Geek Pride Day on 25 May is based on the Star Wars connection along with ties to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Towel Day) and Discworld. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) was also released on 25 May, 41 years after the original Star Wars film.