May 4th or May the Fourth is a geek holiday that has gained popularity in recent years due to a popular film franchise. But where did it begin?
“May the Fourth” is taken from the benediction “May the Force be with you” made famous in the Star Wars film series. This pun intended holiday seems to have first been celebrated in the Toronto Underground Cinema in 2011. However, the use of this phrase predates this, going back to the day in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister was elected. The Conservative party, upon the occasion of her officially becoming Prime Minister on May 4th, took out a half-page newspaper ad in the London Evening News that said: “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.”
In my village here in Colorado Springs, the local philharmonic struck up the band last year to bring us the dulcet tones of John Williams’ symphonic star songs. Yours faithfully was there. And it was your choice: channeling the Empire or backing the Rebellion.
Now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise, buying Lucasfilm for a mere $4B, it has become a real deal. Of course, this is not a shameless commercialization of the holiday, although they do discount Star Wars merchandise on this day, along with many other merchants. There is a Star Wars Guided Tour at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios again this year.
May 25 is the anniversary of the original debut of Star Wars in 1977. May 25 is sometimes called Geek Pride Day. It is no longer considered pejorative to be called a Geek. Nerd, maybe.
Twitter even has a hashtag #StarWarsDay.
But wait, there’s more. May 5 is called “Revenge of the Fifth” a play on the tagline of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, though some celebrate it on May 6 as “Revenge of the Sixth” seems to rhyme better with Sith.
In equally mock seriousness IGN reports that the Galactic Empire, in opposition to the Force-wielding Rebel Alliance, has started a campaign to ban May the Fourth celebrations.
Have you heard about the new Wookie Cookie? It’s Chewie.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian