The Truth About Math’s Most Delicious Holiday

Dayo Olorunnisola

The infinite ratio pi, which is celebrated every year on March 14th.

The Truth About Math’s Most Delicious Holiday

In math, the irrational number pi or 𝝅 (estimated to be 3.14) is immensely important. Defined as the infinite ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, pi is applied in multiple math-heavy fields, such as science, geometry, and trigonometry. Without it, many of the small luxuries we enjoy today would not be possible. It is for this reason that pi day, founded in 1988, is celebrated.

The holiday was founded by physicist Larry Shaw of San Francisco, California on March 14, 1988. The first pi day was celebrated unofficially at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a science museum and Shaw’s place of work. However, it was not made an official holiday until 2009, when a bill was passed in the House of Representatives stating that pi day would be celebrated every year on March 14,  (3/14). I’d put this in parentheses because the two dates are the same

But the number, and the holiday in its honor, are somewhat mysterious to the general public.

No one knows who really discovered pi. Ancient mathematicians were aware of its existence, but were unable to accurately calculate using available methods. Egyptian and Babylonian mathematicians came close, but it is Greek mathematician Archimedes who is credited with the most accurate estimation, which is used today.

And pi day is still something of an obscure holiday for the general public.

The same is true here at State High, where pi day is largely overlooked. Freshman Amanda Reed said, “I don’t know much about the number. Or the holiday. I’ll usually bake a pie, but I don’t celebrate the holiday otherwise.”

Math teachers don’t do much with the holiday in their classrooms, either.

State High Algebra teacher Mr. Schaper said, “I do not celebrate Pi day.  I don’t see it as a holiday.  I think if you want to learn more about Pi, it should happen in a Geometry class,”

Students are often aware of the holiday but don’t actively observe it.

Freshman Maggie Leahy said, “I know what it is but I don’t celebrate it,”

Freshman Cassidy Brown said, “I wouldn’t say I celebrate it, but I am aware of it, and I make a lot of puns about pi/pie,”

Pi is an interesting and extremely important number that plays a vital role in daily life. But the holiday created to observe and celebrate it is often ignored.