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Star Wars Day 2021: How did the space opera franchise’s commemoration come about?

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On the occasion of Star Wars Day 2021, Google is using an animation. (File image: IE)

Star Wars Day: Every year, informally, on May 4, fans of the Star Wars media franchise celebrate International Star Wars Day. Star Wars is a space opera media franchise created by George Lucas that started in 1977 with the release of the first film Episode IV: A New Hope. The film’s release was followed by two other films, which together made the original trilogy, even though they were retroactively titled just like the first film – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and the Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983. Soon after the release of the first film, Star Wars became a pop sensation, and has now been expanded into various media, including television series, novels, comics, as well as video games. It has turned into a fictional universe, and is also the basis of several theme park attractions. Over the years, several Star Wars conventions have also taken place. But how did the International Star Wars Day come about? Let’s find out

Star Wars Day: History of the celebration

Star Wars became a pop sensation and several of its quotes became quite popular. One among them, probably the most known even to those who do not actively follow the franchise, is “May the Force with you”.

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Interestingly, the date, May 4, came about as a pun on this very catchphrase – “May the Fourth be with you”. While this celebration or holiday was not originally created by Lucasfilm, a Walt Disney subsidiary production company which is best known for producing Star Wars, Disney adopted this as a celebratory holiday after fans all across the globe began commemorating the day as Star Wars Day.

“May the Fourth be with you” was first recorded when former UK PM Margaret Thatcher took the post on May 4, 1979, and her party, the Conservatives, placed an advertisement congratulating her. It read, “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.” Since then, there have been several instances where the phrase has been referenced in non-Star Wars situations, and it is now often quoted by people, even if they do not even quite know or understand the original reference.

On the occasion of Star Wars Day 2021, Google is using an animation wherein whenever a user searches for Star Wars or anything related to it, there is a blast of virtual confetti on the browser screen. The virtual confetti shows banners stating “May the Fourth be with you”, Yoda and light sabers among other things.

Star Wars: The original franchise

The Star Wars franchise deals with a galaxy “far, far away” where humans co-exist with many alien species and robots, who assist them in their daily routines. It also depicts the existence of a lightspeed hyperspace technology, which makes interplanetary travel a common occurrence. There is a mystical power, known as the Force, which is strong with some people, allowing them to perform superpowers. There are two major knightly orders who can wield the Force – the Jedi and the Sith, with the Jedi acting as the peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic, and the Sith using the dark side of the Force.

While the original trilogy of Star Wars ended in 1983, George Lucas returned to create a prequel trilogy in 1999, starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace, followed by Episode II: Attack of the Clones in 2002 and then Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005.

However, in 2012, George Lucas decided to sell Lucasfilm, his production company, to Disney as he decided to retire from making blockbuster films and focus on small, independent budget features instead, and a sequel trilogy of Star Wars was then released starting with Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017 and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. George Lucas has no role in the creation of the sequel trilogy or the three anthology films, two of which were released in 2016 and 2018 and the third of which is scheduled for release in 2023.

The three trilogies together make the Skywalker Saga.

Over the years, the franchise has become such a big hit that several television series by various networks have also spun off of the films, including ABC’s Droids and Ewoks, Cartoon Network’s The Clone Wars, which was later taken over by Netflix and then Disney+, and Disney Channel’s Resistance. Disney+ has also released or is in works to release several live-action series like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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