Lightsabers are cool. Everybody wants one—or, at the very least, they want to be filmed doing cool things with one. But does the lightsaber represent something more than fictional awesomeness?
It does. But before we get into that, we'll let Obi-Wan explain what a lightsaber is:
[It] is the weapon of a Jedi knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age. For over a thousand generations, the Jedi knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.
As you can tell, Obi-Wan pines for the good old days when things were simpler and world made sense to him. And it isn't just Grandpa Obi-Wan; Star Wars has waves of nostalgia running throughout it. The present is considered the dark time and the past is looked up as a better time to be alive.
As such, the Jedi and lightsabers take the place of knights and swords and represent the good old days. We look back on the age of errant knights and think of it as a time of chivalry, courage, and decorum. Who needs hygiene when you have propriety, right?
Granted, this image of the Middle Ages comes more from legends and fairy tales than the bubonic-ridden reality of the era. Living in the olden times was filthy and insanely dangerous—as any Game of Thrones fan can tell you.
However, by co-opting the imagery of knights, Star Wars creates a symbol that draws us into the nostalgia trip. The Jedi and lightsaber—not to mention Obi-Wans poetic waxing for the snows of yesteryear—don't bring reality to Star Wars. They infuse the film with the luster of myths and legends.