It's that time of the year when the Star Wars fanbase will be spamming each other with "May the 4th be with you" wishes. The unofficial Star Wars day has set a strong footing in pop and sci-fi culture.
It does not have a concrete point of origin, but its significance can be traced back to the late '70s. We will discuss the early use and the rise of the phrase in this article.
"May the 4th be with you" was first used in a British newspaper
The phrase is a spin on a famous line from the franchise:
“May the force be with you.”
First heard from a minor character, General Dodonna, the phrase was popularized by the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the first movie of the franchise, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
According to starwars.com, the first recorded use of the line was on a Fourth of July celebration poster in 1978. But it was officially used and published in a The London Evening News article.
Britain’s prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, assumed office on May 4, 1979, and a clever news reporter decided to title the news story as:
“May the 4th Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!”
Star Wars production house, Lucasfilm, also revealed in 1982, that Randy Thom wrote an annual message to the company declaring “May the 4th Be With You” since May 4, 1982.
Thom is the director of sound design at Skywalker Sound and has worked with the company for over 40 years. He was on the set of Revenge of the Jedi (then known by the codename Blue Harvest) when he came up with the idea.
The terms grew in popularity as the years went by. In 2005, the term was used in an Independence Day poster released by the franchise. The poster was a way to attract viewers to theaters because Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, released just a few weeks earlier.
The poster showed Yoda in front of red, white, and blue fireworks, with “May the 4th Be With You” written on it. It came with an offer where a fourth ticket was free on the purchase of three tickets.
By 2011, Lucasfilm began promoting the date more regularly, with special discounts and other promotional events. With latest movies and web series like The Mandalorian, The Book Of Boba Fett and many more, Star Wars has sprung back into the mainstream media.
Fans of the franchise, both old and new, have been celebrating the movies and their lore on May 4, with community events and gatherings. Some take time to hold Star Wars theme parties, while others keep it low and binge the series in the comfort of their homes.