Why Is May 4th Star Wars Day? How to Celebrate

Tuesday May the 4th marks what has become known as Star Wars Day, a global celebration of George Lucas' immensely successful sci-fi franchise. The day takes its name from a clever pun originating from one of the franchise's most famous lines: "May the force be with you", which was subsequently tweaked to "May the Fourth be with you."

While the pun has become ubiquitous on May 4th and the day has developed from an informal celebration mostly limited to Star Wars fans into a global event—a sale bonanza for several retailers—its origins remain somewhat unclear.

The credit for the pun should apparently go to the brains at the London Evening News who, on May 4, 1979, congratulated Margaret Thatcher for winning the parliamentary election in the U.K.

"May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations," read the headline welcoming the newly-elected Prime Minister into her new job.

Considering Thatcher won her first election almost exactly two years after Star Wars was released—the movie, then retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope hit the screens on May 25, 1977—it is perfectly plausible someone else had come up to the pun before the London Evening News did. However, it is the now-defunct newspaper—it was incorporated into the Evening Standard just a year after its Star Wars-inspired headline—which can claim to have first introduced May the Fourth to the wider public.

Star Wars Day
Star Wars fans appear in costume at the Taipei 101 commercial building, the tallest in Taiwan, to mark a May the 4th be with you event in Taipei on May 4. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

The pun's popularity subsequently took off, despite the fact Lucasfilm, the TV and movie production company founded by Star Wars' director George Lucas, never officially got involved with the events and parties that were first held when the pun became a worldwide phenomenon.

After Walt Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, however, the dynamic changed significantly. Beginning with the following year, the entertainment giant started Star Wars-themed parties and events at its theme parks as well as a release date for new Star Wars-related content. Last year, Walt Disney released the seventh season of Clone Wars on Disney Plus, while the Star Wars: The Bad Batch series will debut on May 4 this year.

The latest series in the Star Wars franchise, The Bad Batch, also known as Clone Force 99, will premiere on Disney+ on May 4. The Bad Batch was first introduced in season 7 of The Clone Wars as an elite Republic commando squad.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch will follow Hunter, Echo, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Tech as they become a roaming mercenary team.

Several other companies, including Target, Walmart and Best Buy, have followed suit into Disney's footsteps by offering discounts on sales of Star Wars-themed products.

Here's a round-up of this year's best releases to celebrate Star Wars Day.

Following the release of the first movie in 1977, a further eight films followed as part of the so-called Skywalker Saga, as well as two spinoffs movies—Rogue One and Solo released in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

As of last year, the Star Wars franchise was estimated to be worth over $70 billion, making it the fifth-highest grossing media franchise of all time and the second-highest grossing movie franchise ever with combined box office revenues of over $10 billion.

As the graphic below provided by Statista shows, the franchise was filmed in locations across 19 countries.

Star Wars Day
According to data from IMDB, the Star Wars franchise was filmed across 19 different locations worldwide. Statista