May 4 is known by many as Star Wars Day. It seems fairly logical that the day, which draws from the pun surrounding the iconic phrase “May the Force be with you,” would be designated as a day to celebrate all things Star Wars. However, the fandom cannot be confined to a single day, which is why many fans carry the celebration to May 5.
While May 5 is also Cinco de Mayo, National Teacher Day and — in some places — National Hoagie Day, Star Wars call it Revenge of the Fifth. But how did Revenge of the Fifth — or, for that matter, May the Fourth — even start? If Star Wars Day celebrates the Star Wars franchise, what does Revenge of the Fifth celebrate? Let’s dig into the history books.
The first use of May the Fourth was seen in 1979 in the London Evening News. A half-page ad taken up by the Tories congratulated then-recently elected Margaret Thatcher on her victory, declaring “May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” However, it wasn’t until 2008 that Star Wars fans on Facebook created a day intending to celebrate Luke Skywalker Day, with the phrase “May the Fourth Be With You” being their slogan. The pun proved so popular that it spread like wildfire, becoming the Star Wars Day fans know and love. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise in 2012, they leaned heavily into the holiday, turning it into a part of their Star Wars brand.
The earliest recorded use of Revenge of the Fifth is seen on the forum Heroscaper, wherein a Star Wars Day thread, one user jokingly commented a day late on the thread “Does that mean that today is Revenge of the 5th!” It quickly caught on as a joke on forums. Debates raged, however, regarding whether Revenge of the Fifth should instead be Revenge of the Sixth, with many going back and forth on which pun was goofier.
In 2012, the website RevengeOfThe5th.net was founded by Victor Medina and Eric Shirley. The holiday served as a tongue-in-cheek celebration of maligned elements of Star Wars fandom — most notably, the Holiday Special and Ewok films. In an interview with Inverse, Medina stated, “We thought the whole idea for ‘Revenge of the Fifth would cover the flipside of the Star Wars universe, with all the really goofy, funny stuff.” From there, memes and ironic celebrations would continue, carrying on the holiday.
Some see Revenge of the Fifth as the second version of Star Wars Day, while other fans celebrate the prequels since the name of the holiday is an obvious pun on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. However, the thing about the core films in the franchise is that every theatrical film has its fans. Your least favorite Star Wars film is certainly someone else’s favorite.
However, neither definition is what Revenge of the Fifth’s founder believes in. Medina emphasized he felt Revenge of the Fifth would “be for things that have grown off from Star Wars.” While some elements of expanded canon like The Thrawn Trilogy, Star Wars Rebels, The Mandalorian and Shadow of the Empire are beloved, many others are frankly goofy. For example, there’s the comic Star Wars Tales #19, where Han Solo and Chewbacca crash-land on Earth and are discovered by Han Solo. There’s Jaxxon, a giant green rabbit who first appeared in Marvel’s original Star Wars comic. There’s even The Star Wars, a comic adaption of George Lucas’s original script for Star Wars.
The mainstream Star Wars Day celebrates the most mainstream and beloved elements of the franchise’s lore. Revenge of the Fifth, on the other hand, isn’t just Star Wars Day: Episode II, but rather a celebration of Star Wars at its most insane.
Revenge of the Fifth is more than just an extension of Star Wars Day — it's a separate celebration of the absurdest chapters of the franchise.