Pop Culture dictionary

Star Wars Day

[stahr wawrz dey]

What does Star Wars Day mean?

Falling on May 4th each year, Star Wars Day is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the massively popular sci-fi franchise Star Wars.

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Where does Star Wars Day come from?

Star Wars Day
Star Wars

The first Star Wars film was created by George Lucas in 1977. The movie was an overnight sensation, followed by two successful sequels in 1981 and 1983. A prequel trilogy came out starting in 1999 and a sequel trilogy in 2015.

Due to the film franchise’s popularity, President Ronald Reagan’s proposed missile defense program, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), was mockingly nicknamed Star Wars by the press in the mid-1980s. An early mention of a Star Wars day was, in fact, in a 1985 reference to testing of SDI technology.

Star Wars Day as a name for an annual celebration of the Star Wars films began as early as 1993. The date of Star Wars Day, May 4th, is a pun on the famous phrase from the Star Wars movies, May the Force be with you, repurposed as May the Fourth be with you. The line, delivered over a dozen times in the films, is most memorably said by Han Solo to series protagonist, Luke Skywalker, in the original 1977 film, A New Hope.

Star Wars Day rose to prominence in May, 2005, timed with the release of the final prequel film, Revenge of the Sith. The first organized Star Wars Day event took place on May 4th, 2011, at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Since then, Star Wars Day has grown into a widespread phenomenon casually marked by fans all over the globe and officially observed by Disney, who acquired Star Wars and Lucas’s production company, Lucasfilm, in 2012.

WATCH: Star Wars Meets the Dictionary

Examples of Star Wars Day

On May 4, Star Wars Day, Lego will release the Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Y-Wing Starfighter set, StarWars.com reports.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, CNET, April, 2018
For May the Fourth (Star Wars Day) the first shot should be taken by a guy dressed as Han Solo because HAN SHOT FIRST right...
@thatkidMiko, April, 2018  
Joining Star Wars enthusiasts all over the world in celebration of Star Wars Day, fans can enjoy outdoor drive-in movie screenings, guided film location walks, children’s workshops, a special céilí for Star Wars fans (fancy dress encouraged!) and more, all set against the breath-taking backdrop of the west Kerry coast, which featured in the latest movie installation.
Mark Murphy, Food for Thought, March, 2018

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Who uses Star Wars Day?

At its theme parks and on its cruises, Disney celebrates Star Wars Day as such, offering special deals on merchandise at stores and on their websites. Everyday fans also throw their own Star Wars-themed parties, dressing up as characters, showcasing beloved toys and collectibles, or discussing their favorite parts of the franchise. Some fans make tributes to the franchise, such as commemorative art or fiction.

In colloquial speech, people may wish one another Happy Star Wars Day and tell one another May the Fourth/force be with you. “#StarWarsDay,” “#HappyStarWarsDay,” and “#MaytheFourth” are popular on social media on the day, including among many actors from franchise. Many companies and media outlets will capitalize on Star Wars Day with franchise-related products and content tie-ins.

Star Wars Day is sometimes singled out to disparage fans’ “nerdy” love of the franchise, but the broad observance of the day makes any reference to Star Wars Day fizzle out as an insult.

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