Whether you're a Star Wars fan or not, unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably noticed everyone saying a particular phrase every year in May. Thus, you might be wondering — where does the saying "May the Fourth be with you" come from? In case, you haven't put it together yet, the words themselves are a pun on the date, May 4, forming a phrase that plays on the oft-repeated Jedi advice "may the Force be with you." Accordingly so, the date has been adopted as National Star Wars Day, when fans can celebrate the franchise. But that just explains the phrase. Where did it actually come from? Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure we didn't all just wake up on the fourth day of May one year and start simultaneously posting this play on words. What's the origin story on this?
I might have guessed that it came from Lucasfilm in some form, a stroke of genius that the production company snapped up in order to promote itself on an annual basis, even if they weren't releasing any films. However, it seems actually to have come from another source. According to Time, the provenance is actually the London Evening News, which ran an ad celebrating Margaret Thatcher's election to Prime Minister that read: "May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations."
Her election took place on May 4, 1979, which was just over two years after the release of Star Wars Episode VI: A New Hope on May 25, 1977. So, even though the day wasn't exactly the same, the month was, and the film's release was still fresh enough in the minds of the populace that they would get the reference.
It didn't catch on right away as the annual celebration it's held up as today, however. That aspect of May the Fourth is still only a few years old. The first officially organized celebration of Star Wars Day wasn't until 2011, in Canada, and The Walt Disney Company only started celebrating in their parks in 2013, a year after they purchased Lucasfilm.
Which is where we find ourselves now, almost four decades after the inception of the phrase, fully embracing it to celebrate one of the nerdiest, most delightful days of the year. So happy Star Wars Day to you all. May the Fourth be with you, this year and every year.
Image: Walt Disney Motion Pictures/Lucasfilm; Giphy