It's a special day for fans of Star Wars. That explains why you will be seeing "May the 4th Be With You," all over the internet today.
May 4th has become known as Star Wars Day, an unofficial holiday that gets its origin from a line of dialogue in the first movie released in George Lucas' space saga, "Star Wars: A New Hope." In that film, released in 1977, General Dodonna encourages the rebel fighters before they begin their assault on the Death Star, "Then man your ships! And may the Force be with you!"
After that, the saying crops up regularly in the films, books, video games and across the Star Wars universe.
How did 'May the 4th' come about?
So how did "May the 4th Be With You?" actually become a thing?
The first official application of the phrase to the May 4th date came in 1979, when the U.K. Conservative Party paid for a newspaper advertisement saying, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!” to celebrate the party's general election victory.
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Fans began appropriating the saying for their own online celebrations more than a decade ago. The internet and media coverage created a feedback loop and "May the 4th" just "exploded ... and it kept growing," wrote Steve Sansweet on StarWars.com in 2013. He had been head of fan relations at Lucasfilm for 15 years and remains an adviser, but now oversees Rancho Obi-Wan, a Star Wars memorabilia museum.
This year, fans across the globe have already begun spreading Star Wars cheer on Twitter.
— RedLeaderOne (@RedLeader_One) May 3, 2021
— Czarina Medina-Guce (@czarmedinaguce) May 3, 2021
May the 4th festivities
After acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney began recognizing the day, too, with special events. This year, Disney+ launches its new animated Star Wars series, "The Bad Batch," on Tuesday.
Disney's streaming service will also debut a special mashup short entitled “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Force Awakens From Its Nap,’” in which characters from the saga come to the Simpsons hometown.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) May 3, 2021
Disney+ also has a collection of fan art showcased on the Star Wars landing page, as well as individual artworks on the pages for each individual film and TV series "The Mandalorian" and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." And special Star Wars Day features let you explore planets such as Hoth and Tatooine, and get a tour of the Millennium Falcon and an Imperial Star Destroyer.
There's a galaxy of special commemorative toys and merchandise available timed to Star Wars Day and there's many discounts to be found – you can find a list on StarWars.com. Many Star Wars video games are discounted, too; that list is also on starwars.com.
Some special Star Wars Day releases didn't hit ShopDisney.com until today. Among those are a Skywalker Legacy Lightsaber Set ($375) with two lightsaber hilts with sound effects and lights up a saber blade (sold separately).
Apparel site RSVLTS already has some Star Wars-themed short-sleeved dress shirts available ($65), but an additional limited line becomes available at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
And Herschel Supply Co. has a collection of backpacks and a lunch box inspired by "The Mandalorian."
Does Luke Skywalker like 'May the 4th'?
Well, Mark Hamill has regularly chimed in on Twitter about this year is hosting an online fundraiser for USC Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative.
TONIGHT! #May4th-5pm/Pacific (adjust for your timezone worldwide) Join me, a few of my friends & surprise superstars for this amazing event with RWQuarantunes benefiting the USC William & Leslie McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative! https://t.co/MlKXHrOyn7 pic.twitter.com/QWPHcAnPxP
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 3, 2021
And the London Symphony Orchestra is conducting a video event to honor the orchestra's collaborations with composer John Williams, who composed the scores for the Star Wars films, and scores of others including "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The event will be broadcast on the symphony's YouTube channel. and on The Legacy of John Williams web site.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
— London Symphony Orch (@londonsymphony) April 28, 2021
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: May the 4th meme: Why is today Star Wars Day?