Millions of science fiction fans will be uttering a variation on the famous movie phrase “May the force be with you” this Saturday, as celebrations of “Star Wars Day” take place around the world. For many years fans have recognized May 4 as the day to pay tribute to their favorite movie series.
While May 4 is not a federal holiday. But on Thursday, the California Legislature voted to declare the date “Star Wars Day” in conjunction with the expected opening of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim later this year.
According to Star Wars’ official website, the earliest known celebration of “May the 4th” occurred in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher’s political party took a full page ad out of the London Evening News, which ran the day she was sworn in as the U.K.’s first female prime minister. It included the message, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”
With the birth of the internet and growth of social media, “Star Wars” fans from around the world have been able to connect and celebrate the likes of Han Solo, Princess Leah, and Luke Skywalker each and every May 4. This year’s event may take on a particularly somber tone given the passing of Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca.
Mayhew’s family issued a statement earlier this week announcing that the 74-year-old had died: “He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”