On This Day in Space! May 4, 2011: 1st official ‘Star Wars’ Day celebration, ,

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On May 4, 2011, the first organized “Star Wars” Day celebration happened in Toronto. The date for this occasion was selected for no reason other than the fact that “May the fourth” kind of sounds like “May the force” (be with you).

Star Wars” fans have been perpetuating this pun since at least 1979. When Margaret Thatcher took office as the new prime minister of Britain on May 4, 1979, the London Evening News congratulated her with a front-page ad that read, “May the fourth be with you, Maggie. Congratulations.”

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The phrase also came up in British Parliament during a defense debate on May 4, 1994. It eventually started making the rounds on social media through “Star Wars” fan groups and memes. For the first commercial “Star Wars” day celebration, the Toronto Underground Cinema showed screenings of the “Star Wars” movies. Other festivities included costume contests and a “Star Wars” trivia game show.

The annual party just keeps getting bigger. Even astronauts at the space station have celebrated “Star Wars” Day by watching the movies in orbit.

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Catch up on our entire “On This Day In Space” series on YouTube with this playlist.

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Still not enough space? Don’t forget to check out our Space Image of the Day, and on the weekends our Best Space Photos and Top Space News Stories of the week.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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