It’s May 4th, which means it is Star Wars Day. The occasion has gone from a pop culture reference to a calendar event that has transcended niche Star Wars fan base and become something celebrated by the masses. So, where did it all begin? That’s what we are going to explore in this month’s A Brief History of Disney.
The celebration has no defined beginning date or specific origin; it’s clear that the “May the 4th be with you” saying is a spin-off from the iconic Star Wars line “May the Force be with you,” from the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV). While the term popped up sporadically in the media, everywhere, from Margaret Thatcher’s Prime Minstery 1979 Election in the United Kingdom to newspaper recognition of July 4th Independence Day in the United States. Even though Star Wars fans self-appointed the May 4th calendar date as Star Wars Day throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it wasn’t until much later that the unofficial holiday gained more global recognition.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the first organized festivities for Star Wars Day were held in Canada at the Toronto Underground Cinema. The Walt Disney Company’s involvement came even later, after the purchase of Lucasfilm in late 2012. The first official Star Wars Day was observed by Disney soon after in 2013. Several events and activities were initiated in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World that have continued to gain recognition and size in the following ten years. Disney has also used the date as an appropriate launching pad for media releases relating to the franchise.
In a fun extension of the day, fans also enjoy celebrating the following days with the 5th and 6th, often referred to as Revenge of the 5th / Revenge of the 6th, another play on words from the 2005 Star Wars film Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. An alternate reference to the 6th is Return of the Sixth.
For those of you celebrating the day today, May the Fourth Be With You!
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.