Looking back at the beginning of the unofficial Star Wars holiday….
In my house, Star Wars Day — May the 4th — is an extraordinary day in all of our hearts. My son Luke (yes, Luke) was born on Star Wars Day.
So, no matter the origin, we’d celebrate. However, even before Luke arrived, my fellow Star Wars fans and I kept watch on the calendar, ready to tell each other, “May the fourth be with you.”
However, this year, thanks to StarWars.com, I’ll actually have a clue about the origins of the de-facto holiday (which initially marked July 4th).
A Long Time Ago…
The earliest uses of the phrase “May the 4th Be With You” that we have evidence for date from 1978, one year after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope…That summer of ’78, clever newspaper writers used the phrase as a gimmick to mark Independence Day celebrations on the Fourth of July.
And what does May the 4th have to do with British politics?
It was on May 4, 1979, that the first known instance of “May the 4th Be With You” being used to mark the earlier date took place. Britain’s new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, happened to assume office that day, and another clever newspaper writer for The London Evening News declared in a full-page ad: “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!”
Many Happy Returns
But the most recognizable usage of the phrase might be from the unknown origin moment:
Randy Thom, who today is the director of sound design at Skywalker Sound and has been with the company for over 40 years, worked as a location sound recordist on Revenge of the Jedi… May 4, 1982, happened to be a working day, and Thom recalled thinking of the pun on his own when contemplating the date. He shared it with others on the set, and would continue to write an annual message to the company declaring “May the 4th Be With You” for years to come.
Seastrom’s entire article, entitled “May the 4th Be With You: A Cultural History,” is a must-read for Star Wars fans. Today, especially.
Finally, please read the whole piece here, and let us know what you think of May the 4th in the comments below.