Every year on May 4th, Star Wars fans across this galaxy (and another far, far away) come together to celebrate their love for the iconic and rapidly expanding universe. Known as "Star Wars Day," this unofficial holiday is marked by the phrase "May the 4th be with you," a clever play on the famous line, "May the Force be with you." The day is marked with fan events, movie marathons, and parties both cosplay and not, all in honor of the diverse and ever more complex series of tales. What are the origins of Star Wars Day, how do fans celebrate, and how can you jump in if you’re behind?
Origins of Star Wars Day
Weirdly enough, the first recorded use of the phrase "May the 4th be with you" dates to 1979, when Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. An advertisement was taken out in the London Evening News, which read, "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations." A few more decades would pass before social media echoed the phrase, and its popularity exploded.
As with many things harmless and elaborate, the first organized Star Wars Day event took place at the Toronto Underground Cinema, and included a costume contest, trivia, and screenings of fan-made films of varying quality. Much like the expression that kicked the whole thing off, the event expanded and multiplied to all the edges of the map, so much so that even official Star Wars properties have joined in.
How Fans Celebrate
Star Wars Day is a time for fans to come together and express their inner Jedi, (and at least two of them their inner Sith). There are a great many options for celebration, including the most common.
Movie Marathons: Fans often host or attend movie marathons, watching the entire Star Wars saga (or three sagas, depending on your view) or selecting their favorite films from the series. This can also include spin-off movies, animated series, and fan-made content.
Costume and Cosplay Parties: Dressing up as favorite characters is a staple of Star Wars Day celebrations. Fans make and wear various costumes (often for various uses), ranging from Jedi Knights and Sith Lords to droids and Wookies, and gather at events or private parties. Sometimes very private parties.
Trivia and Game Nights: Han shot first, don’t @ me bro. Often an awesome display of nerd bravado, the trivia party is not just a way to show how much you know, but to learn more in depth and obscure information.
Joining the Celebration
First and foremost, if you haven’t seen the movies, do that! There are arguments about how to watch them and in what order, but it’s simple. If you (or your significant other) require chronological order, then start with Rogue One and watch them in order, 1-9. If not, watch them in the order of release date you heathen.
Follow up with the shows, such as The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. The expansion of the universe of some of these instantly iconic characters is growing all the time, and with modern production values you will appreciate it after watching the 1977 release of A New Hope.
Then, do what makes you happy. The celebration of most fandoms is done in similar ways regardless of the fandom itself, so just as you would anything else, celebrate in your own unique way. One word of caution, don’t be a dick. All fandoms carry a dark side, pun intended, so make sure to follow the path of the light.
"May the 4th be with you" is more than just a clever pun; it's a rallying cry for Star Wars fans to come together and celebrate their shared passion for the franchise. Whether you're a lifelong fan or new to the galaxy far, far away, Star Wars Day offers a chance to embrace the Force and join in on the festivities.