May 4, AKA May The Fourth, has been officially designated Star Wars Day, a day when fans everywhere are encouraged to celebrate George Lucas’ legacy of nearly 40 years. Since this saga spans generations and will continue to do so for future ones, the best way to enjoy this day is as a family. Here are a few ideas:
1. Start (or Re-start) The Machete Order. Technically, Star Wars Episode IV came first. Parents who grew up during the reign of the original trilogy know that the worldwide phenomenon started with Episode IV: A New Hope. As such, there’s one rule all good parents know: “Watch Episode IV first.”
A blogger named Rod Hilton came up with the now-popular Machete Order of watching the films, ignoring the numerical titles and watching in a more story-driven order. Start with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, then flashback and watch Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Finally, finish up with Return of the Jedi.
This method completely excludes Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Hilton argues that it has several elements that just don’t click with the rest of the story, not to mention it’s gratuitous use of annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks and “Lil’ Anakin.” Instead, watch it later as an “extended universe” movie, to enjoy some of its better qualities such as the pod race scene and Qui-Gon Jinn.
What better day than The Fourth to start watching the Fourth?
2. Find the Local “To-Do.” In 2014, May 4 comes the day after Free Comic Book Day, and many venues might be inclined to make an entire weekend of geeky fun. Find out from your local stores if there are any giveaways, cosplay contests, or other events planned for that day.
One place to start is the Disney Store, which has Star Wars Day “Ways of the Force” events planned nationwide, featuring giveaways, lightsaber training, and other interactive events for kids.
Some cities may have even more options. Fans living in the Los Angeles area can visit theStar Wars Legion Exhibition from May 2-4 at the Robert Vargas Gallery. The event is displaying Stormtooper helmets re-imagined by celebrities and artists.
The annual Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida doesn’t kick off until May 16 this year, but Star Wars-themed dining experiences, including a Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast, will begin May 4.
3. Hit the Bookstore or Library. For my family, the Star Wars extended universe is another reason to purchase or read more books. Visit a favorite library or bookstore and let everyone select an age-appropriate Star Wars-themed book to purchase or checkout.
Some of our own favorites include Scholastic’s Star Wars ABC or Star Wars 123 for beginning readers, Jedi Academy by Vader’s Little Princess author Jeffrey Brown, or The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger for ‘tweens. Teens and adults may also enjoy William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back.
If they’ve already read most of the stories spawned from this universe, look at similar science-fiction stories or non-fiction books on space.
This idea can overlap with the previous suggestion, as bookstores and libraries are some of the best places to find local May the Fourth events.
4. Sit Down to Family Game Night, Star Wars-style. Star Wars-themed products have infiltrated pretty much everything, and it isn’t hard to find Star Wars versions of classic tabletop games from checkers and chess to Monopoly and Trouble. For older kids and teens, Star Wars: The Card Game is a good strategy-driven battle game for up to four players.
If you don’t want to purchase a game, Charades and Who Am I are easily adaptable to the Star Wars universe, and can be geared towards the knowledge level of the players.
You can also add to the fun, by making simple Star Wars-themed snacks. Vanilla “blue” milkshakes are easy to make; just add a drop of blue food coloring to regular milk. Both of the Star Wars Cookbooks, Volume I (Wookiee Cookies) and Volume II (Darth Malt), have other recipe ideas, including “Sebulba’s Sinister Cider” and “Watto-melon Cubes,” which complement game night well.
Sometimes the simplest reasons to celebrate are often the most fun, and fan-created commemorations like Star Wars Day can turn an ordinary Sunday afternoon into something special. If any of these above suggestions don’t start your lightsaber, brainstorm with your own Padawans about ways to celebrate. They might come up with something impressive. Even Jedi Master Yoda himself said, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”