May The 4th Be With You – More Than Just A Convenient Date

Articles + Interviews
Written by Chris Gelderd

The fourth of May… The day that comes but once a year.

To many, just another day of a season, but to most it’s a day beyond anything this galaxy could prepare us for. It’s a day to celebrate all things Star Wars. Is it official? As in a celebration made official by LucasFilm? No.  But it has transcended boundaries, as Star Wars always does, because it is now recognised by George Lucas himself, and even by Disney, as a day that means so much to fans of the franchise around the world.

The first organised celebration of the day only came later in the years in 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema, where fans gathered for trivia games, cosplay competitions and big-screen presentations of internet based tribute films, spoofs and sketches. And even now, Disney incorporates special Star Wars themed attractions and events at their parks on this day because, while not a national holiday, it has something stronger than a government backing to make it a memorable day – the backing of fans!

But even before then, going back to the late 1970s when ‘A New Hope’ blasted audiences into another galaxy, May the 4th became the day when fans could wear their t-shirts and costumes with pride, play with their toys in the streets and generally do anything related to Star Wars, because it was THEIR day.

And in the world media, the first official incorporation of the Star Wars-themed date was back in 1979 when Britain elected their first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Author Alan Arnold, who was working on ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at the time, remembers:

“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

The date soon spread across the world and it was used by fans to further bring the escapism of Star Wars into their everyday life, almost as if fate allowed it to happen. However, the question is more than just landing on a convenient date, what garners a film franchise the right to be globally celebrated.

It is almost a day specifically created in perfect unison with the most ground-breaking and popular film franchise of all to allow fans to celebrate it, and say thanks to it, how they see fit. This is rather a beautiful thing when you look at it, because this day is something created by fans to share with other fans. Not by the studios or production teams, but by the fans who were given these films who now want to show how much they mean to each individual in any way they see fit. They also want to give something back to the people behind the films, the books, the toys, games, clothing….it’s the ultimate fan love letter.

So what better way to celebrate the franchise? It’s not like you don’t have much to choose from. How will you celebrate your love for Star Wars? How about one of the following;

The classic movie marathon. All current seven episodes and our latest spin-off ‘Rogue One’ in order. But, you have to include the ‘Clone Wars’ animated movie set between Episodes II and III, right? At just over 17 hours, it can be done and will take you right from ‘The Phantom Menace’ to ‘The Force Awakens’, spanning  66 years of galactic history and ready to continue this year in December with ‘The Last Jedi’.

Read a good book or three. With SO much material out there spanning some 25,000 years BEFORE ‘A New Hope’, a wealth of canon and non-canon adventures await you from acclaimed authors including Timothy Zahn, James Luceno,  A.C. Crispin and Troy Denning.

Grab a controller and get online for a day of gaming on a classic or next-gen console with a stack of Star Wars games that span the whole saga. Play as heroes and villains from both sides of the Force in land, sea or air adventures ranging from first person shooters, puzzle games, MMORPG and arcade classics.

As you can see, there is so much to do and it doesn’t stop there. Have a Star Wars themed house party! A trivia game at work! Bake Star Wars cakes for your friends! Spam social media with so much Star Wars knowledge your monitor implodes!

The possibilities are endless, but there is no right way or wrong way to smother yourself in Star Wars goodness and know that millions more are doing the exact same thing.

And let’s not forget the new date creeping into fan’s calendars following May the 4th. It’s the revenge of the 5th! 

So this is just a little glimpse into the formation of a day by the fans and for the fans to celebrate everything that is Star Wars. Let us know what you’re doing to mark the day and show us via our social media outlets on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you, and remember….

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