May the Fourth Be With You: How Margaret Thatcher’s rise launched a Star Wars tradition

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May the 4th Be With You

“May the Fourth Be With You” has come to be a rallying cry for Star Wars fans each year, even though the date has no intrinsic significance to George Lucas’ space opera. The original Star Wars film premiered on May 25, 1977, and although Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens broke with that and opened Dec. 18, 2015, May 4 has become an unofficial kick-off date for summerlong observances such as Disney’s Star Wars Weekends and other celebrations.

Why? It just sounds cool! But there is a reason for the May 4 — and, appropriately enough, it’s rife with political undertones.

According to Lucasfilm’s archives, one of the earliest known uses of the punny greeting in popular culture comes from a 1979 newspaper ad congratulating Margaret Thatcher on her historic election as Britain’s first woman prime minister:

This message, referring to the day of victory, was “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

(This nugget comes from author Alan Arnold, who wrote about the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm.)

Of course, the Internet age was a while away, but when it arrived, it took the catchy message and ran with it. The topic will no doubt be trending again this year, and the official Star Wars Twitter channel has been promoting #StarWarsDay along with the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, the grand finale of The Clone Wars and a new Mandalorian docuseries on Disney+. Join other fans as they gather virtually on that social network and many others to geek out collectively about the best ways to celebrate the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

How will you mark May 4? StarWars.com has some ideas for making the most of the occasion during pandemic quarantine conditions.

This post originally appeared May 2, 2013, and has been updated.

Celebrate with some light (or dark) reading:

TitleAuthor(s)Release dateAmazon order linkSupport local
A NEW DAWNJohn Jackson MillerSept. 2, 2014https://amzn.to/2QR3hnrhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780553391473
TARKINJames LucenoNov. 4, 2014https://amzn.to/2Didb9thttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780553392906
HEIR TO THE JEDIKevin HearneMarch 3, 2015https://amzn.to/2KWSlkahttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780345544865
LORDS OF THE SITHPaul S. KempApril 28, 2015https://amzn.to/33pL6HWhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780345511454
DARK DISCIPLEChristie GoldenJuly 7, 2015https://amzn.to/2rsPubZhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101884959
AFTERMATHChuck WendigSept. 4, 2015https://amzn.to/37EeVrGhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101885925
LOST STARSClaudia GraySept. 4, 2015https://amzn.to/2QVV6WShttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781484724989
BATTLEFRONT: TWILIGHT COMPANYAlexander FreedNov. 3, 2015https://amzn.to/2pQ08cihttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101884768
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (film novelization)Alan Dean FosterJan. 15, 2016https://amzn.to/37GdhGchttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101966990
BLOODLINEClaudia GrayMay 3, 2016https://amzn.to/34oXMjFhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101885260
AFTERMATH: LIFE DEBTChuck WendigJuly 12, 2016https://amzn.to/2OMCVjVhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101966952
AHSOKAE.K. JohnstonOct. 11, 2016https://amzn.to/2XNxIfNhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781484782316
CATALYST: A ROGUE ONE STORYJames LucenoNov. 15, 2016https://amzn.to/2OoupbWhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101967003
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (film novelization)Alexander FreedDecember 2016https://amzn.to/2OnrwYDhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780399178474
AFTERMATH: EMPIRE’S ENDChuck WendigFeb. 21, 2017https://amzn.to/2DlaZ18https://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101966983
THRAWNTimothy ZahnApril 11, 2017https://amzn.to/2XO0nRXhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781101967027
GUARDIANS OF THE WHILLSGreg RuckaMay 2, 2017https://amzn.to/2L0qqjkhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781484780817
REBEL RISINGBeth RevisMay 2, 2017https://amzn.to/2Dkpq5whttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781484780831
BATTLEFRONT II: INFERNO SQUADChristie GoldenJuly 25, 2017https://amzn.to/2OmuKvEhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781524796822
PHASMADelilah S. DawsonSept. 1, 2017https://amzn.to/2slfqH3https://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781524796334
LEIA: PRINCESS OF ALDERAANClaudia GraySept. 1, 2017https://amzn.to/34prfKuhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781484780787
FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW(Anthology)Oct. 3, 2017https://amzn.to/2OTD8Suhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780345511478
CANTO BIGHT(Anthology)Dec. 5, 2017https://amzn.to/2DgKUQThttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780525478768
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (film novelization)Jason FryMarch 6, 2018https://amzn.to/2pSZuuDhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781524797133
LAST SHOT: A HAN AND LANDO NOVELDaniel Jose OlderApril 17, 2018https://amzn.to/2qNN1sIhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780525622147
MOST WANTEDRae CarsonMay 25, 2018https://amzn.to/2L2Ba0Lhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368016308
THRAWN: ALLIANCESTimothy ZahnJuly 24, 2018https://amzn.to/2sm52ifhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780525481287
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY: EXPANDED EDITION (film novelization)Mur LaffertySept. 4, 2018https://amzn.to/2Dj7yIrhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781984819284
QUEEN’S SHADOWE.K. JohnstonMarch 5, 2019https://amzn.to/2OnM0AFhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368024259
MASTER AND APPRENTICEClaudia GrayApril 16, 2019https://amzn.to/2KXsVmShttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780525619376
ALPHABET SQUADRONAlexander FreedJune 11, 2019https://amzn.to/2R51X0vhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781984821980
THRAWN: TREASONTimothy ZahnJuly 23, 2019https://amzn.to/33oFhdYhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781984820983
STAR WARS MYTHS & FABLESGeorge MannAug. 1, 2019https://amzn.to/2tW4YGxhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368043458
GALAXY’S EDGE: BLACK SPIREDelilah S. DawsonAug. 27, 2019https://amzn.to/33oFsGahttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593128381
DOOKU: JEDI LOSTCavan ScottOct. 1, 2019https://amzn.to/2pYcbEEhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593157664
JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: RESISTANCE REBORNRebecca RoanhorseNov. 5, 2019https://amzn.to/2DkB7cvhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593128428
JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: FORCE COLLECTORKevin ShinickNov. 19, 2019https://amzn.to/2sjgfjthttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368045582
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (film novelization)Rae CarsonMarch 17, 2020https://amzn.to/2OoI2HWhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593128404
QUEEN’S PERILE.K. JohnstonJune 2, 2020https://amzn.to/2Oq6MiUhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368057141
SHADOW FALL: AN ALPHABET SQUADRON NOVELAlexander FreedJune 23, 2020https://amzn.to/2pYc5Nihttps://bookshop.org/shop/nerdvana
DOCTOR APHRA: AN AUDIOBOOK ORIGINALSarah KuhnJuly 21, 2020https://amzn.to/3ikqEko
STAR WARS DARK LEGENDSGeorge MannJuly 28, 2020https://amzn.to/36Nd03jhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368057332
POE DAMERON: FREE FALLAlex SeguraAug. 4, 2020https://amzn.to/2ScWOCuhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368051668
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS — STORIES OF LIGHT AND DARK ANTHOLOGYLou Anders, Tom Angleberger, Preeti Chhibber, Zoraida Córdova, Sarah Beth Durst, Jason Fry, Yoon Ha Lee, Rebecca Roanhorse, Anne Ursu, Greg van EekhoutAug. 25, 2020https://amzn.to/36OzwbUhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368057295
THRAWN: THE ASCENDANCY TRILOGY BOOK 1: CHAOS RISINGTimothy ZahnOct. 6, 2020 Sept. 1, 2020https://amzn.to/34uWOmghttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593157688
FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK(Anthology)Nov. 10, 2020https://amzn.to/2YMPsdp
HIGH REPUBLIC: LIGHT OF THE JEDICharles SouleAug. 25, 2020 Jan. 5, 2021https://amzn.to/32WHZc4https://bookshop.org/a/1125/9780593157718
HIGH REPUBLIC: A TEST OF COURAGEJustina IrelandJan. 5, 2021https://amzn.to/2TFi4lT
HIGH REPUBLIC: INTO THE DARKClaudia GrayOct. 13, 2020 Feb. 2, 2021https://amzn.to/381m5VQhttps://bookshop.org/a/1125/9781368057288
VICTORY’S PRICE: AN ALPHABET SQUADRON NOVELAlexander FreedMarch 2, 2021https://amzn.to/3iIj3f6
THRAWN: THE ASCENDANCY TRILOGY BOOK 1: GREATER GOODTimothy ZahnMay 4, 2021
THE MANDALORIAN: ORIGINAL NOVELAdam ChristopherFall 2021https://amzn.to/31DG0KS

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