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Explaining The Origins Of Star Wars Day And 'May The 4th Be With You'

May has always been an important month for "Star Wars" fans. The immensely popular franchise began in May 1977, with the original theatrical release of "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope," and ever since, May has been the month when fans choose to remember the "Star Wars" franchise's history and its importance in their lives. However, in recent years, May has also become the time of the year when fans all over the world can usually expect to see the release of new "Star Wars" media or products. That is, of course, thanks to the growing popularity (and public adoption) of "Star Wars Day," or "May the 4th Be with You."

The unofficial pop culture holiday has become an annual event for "Star Wars" fans, one during which Lucasfilm and Disney typically release special "May the 4th" merchandise and sometimes release new "Star Wars" TV shows. That's the case with this year's "May the 4th" anyway, which sees the new "Star Wars" animated series, "Star Wars: The Bad Batch," making its long-awaited premiere on Disney+.

Given just how popular and well-known an event "May the 4th"-slash-"Star Wars Day" has become, one could assume that it's been going on for a while. In all actuality though, the day's popularity is only a recent development, and it'd be fair for someone to wonder where "Star Wars Day" even came from in the first place.

How 'May the 4th' became a Star Wars holiday

It's taken several decades for "May the 4th Be with You" — a play on the popular "Star Wars" phrase, "May the force be with you" — to catch on, and it's still unclear when the phrase even originated. The first recorded instance of the phrase actually came on May 4, 1979 (via Newsweek) — a little less than two years after the first "Star Wars" film hit theaters — when the U.K. conservative party congratulated Margaret Thatcher on her election as prime minister with an ad in The London Evening News that read, "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations."

There are only a handful of other official, recorded uses of the phrase in the decades after that — including another instance involving a U.K. politician in the 1990s (via the official Parliament website). It feels safe to assume — if unconfirmed — that the phrase was used by plenty of "Star Wars" fans over the years, but like most pop cultural phenomena of the 21st century, it really took the internet for "May the 4th" to hit the wider public. Facebook groups first began using the phrase and celebrating it as a "Star Wars" holiday back in 2008, and in 2011, the first-ever recorded organized celebration of the day happened in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (via The Globe and Mail). However, the "Star Wars" holiday really took on steam and became popular in 2013, when Disney officially began recognizing the day with official merchandise releases, Disney+ premieres of "Star Wars" shows, and other commemorative events.