Star Wars Day 2019: How Margaret Thatcher Launched 'May the Fourth Be With You' Holiday

Thanks to the pun "May the fourth be with you," we now have Star Wars Day, which has become more like a real holiday in recent years. (Get it? It's a play on "may the Force be with you.") The event's become even bigger since Disney purchased Lucasfilm and the Star Wars movie franchise in 2012. Since then, May 4 has been a major platform for Star Wars merchandise sales and fan events, with states like California enshrining May 4 as an official Star Wars Day holiday. But the actual origins of Star Wars Day and "May the fourth be with you," stretch all the way back to the 1970s, when it was first popularized by an unexpected source: Margaret Thatcher and the United Kingdom's Conservative Party.

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According to StarWars.com, who cite Alan Arnold's 1980 book Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back, "May the 4th be with you" first emerged in the mainstream pop culture on May 4, 1979. On that day, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister of the U.K. after the Conservatives defeated the Labour Party government in a general election.

To celebrate, the Tories took out a newspaper ad, which declared, "May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations." The Force was indeed with Thatcher, with the day inaugurating the longest Ministry of the 20th century.

"Proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all," Arnold noted in his journal entry for the day.

The pun on "May the Force be with you" popped up several more times over the years, including once more in a U.K. parliamentary debate, but wouldn't be directly linked with a Star Wars-themed holiday until 2008, when a Facebook group celebrating "Luke Skywalker Day" adopted the May the Fourth slogan. Since then, May 4 has been a consistent day for fandom celebration, with Disney joining in from 2013 on.

Other Star Wars holidays have also been proposed, including Los Angeles' official Star Wars Day, celebrated on May 25, 2007 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the original Star Wars release date. "Revenge of the Fifth" or "Revenge of the Sixth"—Sith themed holidays premised in the Star Wars: Episode III The Revenge of the Sith title—have yet to catch on to the same degree.

May the 4th be with you. Also, LLAP.

Star Wars Day 2019: How Margaret Thatcher Launched 'May the Fourth Be With You' Holiday | Culture