May 4th has become commonly known as Star Wars Day, or National Star Wars Day. And who could be surprised? The words, “May the 4th” seem to beg for the rest of the catchphrase to be uttered.
Regardless of whether you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek, or if you are even a sci-fi aficionado at all, the influence of George Lucas’ Star Wars on pop culture is undeniable.
It seems that George Lucas had a knack of being able to connect with people in ways that others just could not, let’s face it, is there really a piece of work this man is responsible for that we cannot affix a quote to somewhere?
The truth is, Star Wars day represents more than just a quote in a film, the day itself is internationally recognized and is now as much a part of life as some of the most popular holidays you can name, we just have to ask ourselves why this is.
Well, if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that it started out as a homage to something quite brilliant and, in its infancy, belonged only to the inner circles. As time went on, however, it reached more people and gained traction.
When we think of Star Wars day now, it’s not only a day, it’s something fun, and it’s also an in-joke that pretty much everybody on earth is a part of. While it may sound silly, something as incredibly simple as Star Wars Day has played a huge part in bringing people together no matter what background they are from.
The question of how this happened is all in the history, and the history of Star Wars Day is something that we are going to explore a little now.
The History of Star Wars Day
Star Wars, an epic space opera written and directed by George Lucas, premiered in 1977 and became an almost instant cult classic. Even today, almost 40 years later, Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time.
The franchise it began remains the most successful one of all time, earning over 2.5 billion dollars since the release of the first film. However, the money it’s earned over the years is hardly the most impressive aspect of Star Wars.
As famous film critic Roger Ebert put it: “Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after.”
Star Wars was a real game-changer, beginning a new era of special effect-packed motion pictures bursting with excitement, adventure, and imagination that appealed enormously to younger audiences as well as older ones.
Many of today’s most acclaimed film directors, such as Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and James Cameron, cite Star Wars as a great influence on their careers.
Star Wars has also had an enormous cultural impact on other areas besides filmmaking, including politics–the Reagan Administration’s Strategic Defense Program was mockingly nicknamed “Star Wars.”
As recently as 2013, President Barack Obama used the phrase “Jedi mind meld” to describe what some people were expecting him to do in his opposition to make them accept his ideas.
“May the Fourth be with you” was first used by Margaret Thatcher’s political party to congratulate her on her election on May 4th, 1979, and the saying quickly caught on.
However, the first celebration of May 4th took place much later, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in 2001. This first official Star Wars Day’s festivities included a costume contest and a movie marathon. Fans’ favorite parodies of the franchise were also enjoyed, as were some of the most popular mash-ups and remixes.
While for some people, there may have been a fleeting thought that Star Wars Day was nothing but a fad that would die out, regardless of the fact the films never did, in swoop Disney, and they restarted the whole thing off and took it to a whole new level.
In 2015, Star Wars saw a new saga come and with all the charm, class and lens flares that Disney could throw at it, and wow did it reignite a fire in Star Wars fans, and we know that lighting that fire again was tough after what JarJar Binks did to it.
Of course, the fire restarted with the Force Awakens, and the new saga promised to deliver fans everything they wanted from a 21st century Star Wars sage. Surprisingly, this time around, Disney really delivered and did what they did best, they took a franchise and made it incredible again.
With Disney behind it and a few familiar faces returning, Star Wars Day was soon to become something even more special to a whole new demographic. Now, a whole new set of parents have to explain why even though it’s set a long, long time ago, things are way more advanced than they are now.
It seems that over the last five years, Star Wars has reached millions of new soon to be Jedi warriors, and if we know anything about Disney, we know they are going to make sure that this franchise is never left to rest again.
Since its revamp, National Star Wars Day has gained so much more popularity and is celebrated by Star Wars fans worldwide, and before long, we expect Disney to declare May 4th to be a national holiday.
Star Wars Day Timeline
First Star Wars book is released
Although technically published before the release of the film in 1977, the book is actually written by George Lucas after he has already written the Star Wars screenplay.
First Star Wars film is released
The first in a trilogy, Star Wars: A New Hope, is well-received by critics for the most part and grosses over $550 million at the box office on its first run.
Luke Skywalker Day groups appear
Perhaps considered the predecessor to Star Wars Day, groups on Facebook start popping up using the catchphrase “May the Fourth be with you”.
First Star Wars Day is celebrated
The first celebration of Star Wars Day in an organized fashion takes place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on May 4 of this year. It includes film screenings, costume contests, parodies and more.
Star Wars is watched in space
In celebration of Star Wars Day, the crew on the International Space Station watch the films.
How to celebrate Star Wars Day
The way you celebrate Star Wars day will depend on how well you know this cultural phenomenon. If you are a longtime fan of the franchise, you might want to get a group of friends together and attend one of the many Star Wars events organized in different parts of the world.
Such events range from costume contests to museum exhibits to tours of space centers. And if you’re not feeling up to going out, there’s no reason why a Star Wars Day party organized by you at home should be any less fun.
Movie marathons with friends, Star Wars trivia games, and even Star Wars themed snacks (Death Star piñata, anyone?) will guarantee this day is full of fun as well as being very educational.
“Vadering” another person has also become an extremely popular thing to do on this day, and the photos you take of this are sure to bring a smile to your face for years to come.
Because Star Wars itself is such an enormous topic, the ways of celebrating the day dedicated to it are virtually endless. So choose one, have fun, and May the 4th be with you!
Star Wars Day FAQs
What is Star Wars Day?
This is a special day that was started to commemorate and celebrate all things related to the Star Wars Franchise that is now owned by Disney. It’s a day when Star Wars fans dress up in costumes, display memorabilia, watch films, attend parties and generally enjoy this sci-fi, pop-culture phenomenon.
Why is Star Wars Day on May 4?
The date of Star Wars Day has to do with the popular Jedi phrase from the films, “May the force be with you.” When this date is pronounced “May the Fourth”, it sounds similar, so it’s really just a fun play on words.
Is Star Wars Day a holiday?
While not officially designated a holiday by any government, Star Wars Day is an informal commemorative day that is celebrated on May 4 each year.
Who started Star Wars Day?
Although it may have sprung up out of a grassroots movement in the early 2000s, the official creator of Star Wars Day is none other than the creator and author of the original franchise, filmmaker George Lucas.
When was the first Star Wars Day?
The first organized Star Wars Day was celebrated in 2011 where many festivities took place at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto, Canada.