On May 4, 'Star Wars Day' brings hardcore and casual fans together

For fans of Star Wars, May 4 is a holiday all its own. Here's how it came to be and how it's helped bring a vast fandom together.
Star Wars Day May 4
Posted at 10:13 PM, May 03, 2024

Unless you live in a galaxy really far, far away, you know Star Wars Day has arrived.

It's the day when the phrase "May the Force be with you" becomes "May the 4th be with you."

Apparently the first recorded use of the phrase came in 1979, two years after the original "Star Wars" film hit theaters. A newspaper ad in honor of the newly-elected prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, read, "May the Forth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations."

"Not only did the Brits help make 'Star Wars,' originally, we helped create Star Wars Day," said David Whiteley, an anchor with Britain's ITV News who also happens to be a major Star Wars fan.

"We do know at times that the Star Wars fandom can be divided over certain aspects of Star Wars that they like and they don't like. But I think that people very much come together when it's Star Wars and they say, 'Hey, it's May the Force be with you,' you know, and that's something you can latch onto."

Whiteley even has his own action figures that were created for one of his Star Wars documentaries. Star Wars Day is also his birthday. He'll celebrate like millions of other fans, by watching the movies.

"The original trilogy. I'm a bit of a sucker for 'Return of the Jedi', originally 'Revenge of the Jedi', of course," Whiteley says. "And to sit and watch those three back-to-back with a couple of cold beers, I don't need anything else!"

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Star Wars-themed activities are planned around the country on Saturday. This year fans can also watch "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" in movie theaters again. The film is being re-released to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Star Wars Day also brings tons of merchandise and marketing, including — for the first time — vanilla-flavored blue milk from TruMoo, just like the stuff Luke Skywalker used to drink.

"We love the movies and television and comics and books," says Lacey Gilleran, co-host of the Star Wars-themed podcast, "The Resistance Broadcast."

Gilleran says Star Wars Day goes beyond the merchandising, though, a time when cosplayers and casual fans come together around a genuine cultural phenomenon.

"Even if you don't like Star Wars, you know what Star Wars is," says Gilleran. "It's just one of those things that I think nerdy and non-nerdy people connect on a level unseen by any other franchise."