Every mathematician’s favorite holiday is quickly approaching! Yes, we’re talking about Pi Day, the annual celebration of the world’s most famous mathematical ratio. But while Pi Day — observed every March 14 — may be about math to some people, to others it’s about something much more delicious: an excuse to indulge in flaky, fruity, nutty, chocolaty, or cream-filled pie.
Let’s take a closer look at Pi Day, along with highlighting some particularly tasty ways to celebrate.
What is Pi Day?
If your math is rusty, here’s a brief refresher: Pi (after the Greek letter “π”) is the mathematical representation of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — roughly 3.14159.
Pi is an irrational, transcendental number which continues independently free of patterns and repetition. Its many special traits have earned its superstar status in the math world.
While no one knows exactly who first calculated pi, we do know it dates back thousands of years and was mentioned as early as the Book of Kings. In its earliest incarnations, pi was only calculated to a few degrees past the decimal.
A history progressed, mathematicians and scientists continued adding digits to what we now know is an infinite number. Just how far have contemporary pi scholars gotten?
It’s been calculated to a staggering ten trillion digits.
We do know that pi earned its winsome name in 1706 thanks to a Welsh mathematician named William Jones. In comparison to when pi was first conceived and named, the celebration of Pi Day is in its infancy.
The Birth of Pi Day
The very first large-scale celebration of Pi Day was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. It wasn’t until more than a decade later, however, that National Pi Day was recognized as an official holiday. by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since that time, the holiday has grown and people celebrate it in a variety of different ways. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). for example, has timed the delivery of its acceptance letters to coincide with Pi Day.
In the quaint college town of Princeton, New Jersey, meanwhile, residents participate in a joint celebration of Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday, which is shared with Pi Day. Other celebrations shoot for “Pi in the Sky” through the skywriting of the “π” symbol.
Celebrating Pi Day
While some people choose to observe Pi Day by participating in recitation contests, entering pi throwing competitions, and even dressing up as Einstein, we prefer a different, more delicious way to celebrate: eating pie.
We’re hardly alone. After all, while pie is not an American invention — despite the oft-heard expression, “As American as apple pie” expression — it is one of the most enjoyed desserts everywhere from grand holiday celebrations to quiet nights at home.
But all pie is not created equal. In fact, there are countless different varieties to be sampled and enjoyed.
So how do you know where to start? A nationwide poll conducted by Mrs. Smith’s reveals some interesting insight into our collective pie palates. America’s favorite pie by a landslide, according to Mrs. Smith’s? Apple, with 47 percent of the vote. Pumpkin, chocolate cream, cherry, and apple crumb made it into the top five with 37 percent, 32 percent, 27 percent, and 25 percent, respectively.
Pecan and lemon meringue shared the sixth place spot in each claiming 24 percent of the vote while blueberry (21 percent), key lime (18 percent) and peach (16 percent) rounded out the top 10. Notably missing from this list? A southern specialty: rhubarb.
Sure, you can pick up a pie at your local grocery store or bakery, but why not try your hand at some pie baking of your own this March 14th? Just make sure you stock up on everything you need to bake, serve and eat this beloved treat before you get started.
Not a fan of dessert? We recommend celebrating with a different kind of (pizza) pie.
Ultimately, pi may be an irrational number, but any occasion for eating pie makes perfect sense as far as we’re concerned. Now if only there were a mathematical concept named “donut” or “chocolate.”