And Also With You: How May the Fourth Was With Us
A pun-based celebration of the Star Wars universe
A long time ago, in a country pretty far away, a London newspaper wrote "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations," in a special ad referencing the election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It was in 1979, and only the second occurrence of the date of May 4 following the release of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope on May 25, 1977. This wasn't even the first time it was said, though it generally receives credit for the phrase's proliferation, as it can be seen in newspaper ads as early as 1978 in celebration of the fourth of July.
May the Force be with you. It just feels nice, doesn't it? Reassuring, almost?
Catholics will find it somewhat echoing, too, as liturgies prior to 2008 saw priests saying "the Lord be with you."
Either way, it's safe to assume that if newspapers didn't crack this date-specific phrase first, someone would have.
May the fourth be with you.
It's a simple, yet satisfying play on words, spoken in a lisped rephrasing of a quote that runs throughout the film franchise. Can't you just picture Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi speaking these words to Luke? It's easy to assume that that's the case. But, like that even more famous misquote in The Empire Strikes Back, it didn't exactly happen like that.
He speaks about the force, of course, the famous Jedi master saying "The Force will be with you" three times. The more conditional and famous quote is first spoken by General Dodonna (played by Alex McCrindle), and repeated by Han Solo to Luke Skywalker shortly after.
"May the Force be with you" entered our pop culture lexicon deeply over the years. It's no surprise that it was driven even deeper in the 2000s as it was said in the prequel trilogy at least eight times. It was in these films where Kenobi finally got to deliver his famous line, though this time it would be actor Ewan McGregor who got to do the honors.
After cropping up in Parliament, in books, and as the subject line for innumerable email forwards, by 2008 the date of May 4 was used to celebrate "Luke Skywalker Day."
After Disney's purchase of the franchise from George Lucas in 2012, the company officially observed the date in celebration of the more generalized "Star Wars Day."
This is not to be confused with Life Day, which is November 17. This is the holiday observed by the Wookies of Kashyyyk, and is "a celebration of nature, family and new life" according to Starwars.com. This holiday served as the driving plot point in 1978's Star Wars Holiday Special.
Go ahead, watch all of it, we dare you.
For stragglers, and those who want to keep a Festival of the Ancestors-type rager going, there's the Revenge of the Fifth, and alternately, the Revenge of the Sixth, as both numbers sound somewhat like the word "Sith."
For the real geeks, however, Star Wars is an everyday thing. They know that the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things, and how It surrounds us and penetrates us.
And on days like today, it really does bind the galaxy together.
Star Wars and "May the Fourth be with you" is a Trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company.