How did ‘May the 4th’ come to be?

A grassroots tradition


By Gwen Ong

How did ‘May the 4th’ come to be?

It started with the fans

The phrase started out as a pun and camaraderie among fans, in reference to the famous Star Wars line – “May the force be with you”. Fans have taken to declare May 4th as a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away. Now even Disney and Lucasfilm (the parent company of Star Wars) have embraced the spirit of fandom on this day.


It didn’t exactly started out in the US

For what is supposedly an all-American movie franchise, the earliest recorded May 4th reference originated in the United Kingdom. According to history, Margaret Thatcher assumed her role as the prime minister on May 4th, 1979. Her political party, the Conservatives placed an ad in the London Evening Express with a message reading, “May the Fourth be with you Maggie. Congratulations.”


It took off in Toronto, Canada

The first commercial Star Wars Day gathering was held on May 4th, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. It may not be the first time people had connected the day with the films, but it was the first such large scale event organised for May 4th. Screenings of the movies and a costume contest were among the highlights of the day.


It’s now a global phenomenon because of Disney

Following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Star Wars Day has grown to be a bona fide celebration. In its first year as franchise master, a party was held at its theme park where fans came dressed in characters for fireworks show and dance party. Today, Star Wars Day is observed worldwide. Over at our neighbours in Singapore, a three-day Star Wars festival is currently taking place at Gardens by the Bay.


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