Where does May the Fourth be with you come from?
Although the phrase May the Force be with you is usually attributed to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Master at the heart of the original Star Wars movie in 1977, it is actually said by a minor character, General Dodonna, as he dismisses Rebel troops before their siege of the Death Star. It is later memorably repeated by Han Solo in a wry farewell to Luke Skywalker. The quote immediately became an iconic part of Star Wars in popular and fan culture.
In Star Wars, the Force is a powerful, pervasive, but invisible energy field Jedis harness for good and Darksiders manipulate for evil. Good characters may say May the Force be with you on parting as an expression of goodwill, à la some religious farewells like godspeed or peace be with you.
An early use of the May the Fourth date pun is popularly said to come in 1979. After British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was first elected, fellow members of her conservative political party took out a full-page ad in the London Evening News on May 4th reading: "May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations."
May the Fourth be with you made a second appearance in British politics on May 4th, 1994, when parliamentarian Harry Cohen made a joke using the phrase during a House of Commons discussion of national defense.
Popular use of May the Fourth be with you surged after May 4th, 2011, the first official Star Wars Day event at the Toronto Underground Cinema—meaning a pun, essentially, inspired what's now a full-on, worldwide observance of all things Star Wars every May 4th.
May the Fourth is sometimes followed by Revenge of the Fifth or Sixth (of May), another date-based pun on the 2005 Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith. On this day, fans celebrate villains from Star Wars rather than heroes.
Who uses May the Fourth be with you?
On Star Wars Day, many fans of Star Wars will playfully greet or bid goodbye in casual speech with May the Fourth be with you. Some Catholics respond to a wish of May the Fourth be with you with And also with you, based on ritualistic language used in Mass.
Popular media and businesses may also incorporate the catchphrase in their marketing materials or on their websites to promote products or content with a Star Wars tie-in for the holiday. The hashtag "#MaytheFourth" trends on social media among a wide range of users and organizations on Star Wars Day.
May the Fourth be with you, and may you be with us on May the Fourth.
@ImprovBeyond, April, 2018
Every year on May 4, Star Wars fans everywhere celebrate the franchise by wishing each other a galaxy far, far away-themed greeting: “May the fourth be with you.”
Megan McCluskey, Time, May, 2016
And in 2015, [May the Fourth] is even more hyped up than usual, as fans prep for the impending release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in December. Whether the date will continue to be fan driven, or corporate, only time will tell. But for today at least, May The Fourth Be With You!
Alex Zalben, MTV, May, 2015