The history of saying, “May the fourth be with you”


Photo by Tommy van Kessel on Unsplash

MYSTERY WIRE — Chances are, you will be greeted today, even virtually, with the phrase, “may the fourth be with you.” Two important things here: your response should be, “and also with you” and you should learn about this day’s origins.

Simply put, the day now know as ‘Star Wars Day’ is a take on today’s actual date, May the fourth. And yeah, it’s pretty straight forward and obviously a take on the Star Wars phrase, “may the force be with you.”

The history and current popularity shouldn’t be lost on you though. According to Star Wars Day was officially first organized in 2011 in Toronto, Canada. Why? Because someone thought it sounded fun to say the fourth instead of force when advertising for showing of the Star Wars’ movies for the Toronto Underground Cinema.

Headline from the London Evening News, May 4, 1979.

But using the Star Wars phrase this way can actually be found dating back to 1979, two years after the first Star Wars movie was released. It was first seen in writing when Margaret Thatcher took office as the new prime minister of Britain on May 4, 1979 On that day, the London Evening News congratulated her with a front-page ad that read, “May the fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.” 

Britain has an odd history with the phrase. In 1994, it came up during a defense debate in the British parliament. And from then on, it swept through fan clubs and enthusiast circles, almost like someone out there just sensed its existence.

By 2020, the day has taken hold in at least north American and British culture. Astronauts on the International Space Station even watched Star Wars while in orbit on this day. And to mark the day, Disney, which now owns the Star Wars franchise, has release the latest blockbuster, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to its Disney+ streaming service.

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