What special holiday is celebrated near the middle of March?
Chances are you’re thinking of a day involving shamrocks, pots of gold and green attire. And yes, while that is one holiday to celebrate in mid-March, there’s another special day you may be forgetting to put on the calendar.
This holiday is celebrated by mathematicians, engineers and other members of the STEM community: March 14 = PI DAY!
What is π?
π is an irrational number used in multiple fields of mathematics and even in science courses such as physics. The Greek letter π (“pi”) is used to represent the constant ratio of a circle’s circumference (length around the outside of a circle) to its diameter (distance across the inside of a circle through the center).
Since π is an irrational number, this means it cannot be written as a fraction, and its decimal value is never-ending and non-repeating. π is often approximated to the value 3.14 as a decimal or 22/7 as a fraction.
What is Pi Day?
You can share your love of mathematics by celebrating Pi Day on March 14th (3/14 since it corresponds to the first three digits of pi). The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in 2009 declaring Pi Day an official national holiday, although it was first celebrated in 1988 by a physicist who worked at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
How Can You Celebrate It?
The first celebration included a circular parade followed by participants consuming a variety of fruit pies. Pi enthusiasts have continued to celebrate the holiday in any number of ways, like:
- Participating in pie eating contests,
- Throwing pies in people’s faces,
- Creating π-themed arts and crafts,
- Reciting the digits of π by memory,
- Approximating π with various games,
- Measuring circular objects,
- Attempting to draw perfect circles free-hand,
- Telling math-related jokes,
- And more!
Celebrating Safely This Year
Because of the pandemic, this March’s celebrations will look a little different from other years. I usually spend the week leading up to Pi Day hosting a celebration on campus with pi-themed games, pies and “pize” (prize) packs for participants. I always wear each of my pi-themed shirts in the days leading up to 3/14—and on the big day itself—which usually falls during our spring break.
A favorite local restaurant usually gives out free pie samples on Pi Day—and hosts a Pie Madness Bracket all month (like March Madness, minus the college basketball). Per my family tradition, I have celebrated Pi Day for years at this venue to spread the word of mathematics while enjoying some delicious coconut cream pie.
This year I will still wear my pi-themed shirt and eat some pie, although I may just have to celebrate mathematics virtually and on social media rather than with in-person events.
3/14 is Sunday
So mark your calendar, and plan to celebrate mathematics on March 14! Encouraging others to be curious about STEM—while having an upbeat attitude about the practical everyday uses of mathematics—is a positive outcome of celebrating Pi Day.
Plus, everyone loves a good excuse to eat pie, right?
Want to learn more math? FRCC’s faculty can help you learn even the tough mathematical concepts—and make the learning process both active and engaging. Find out more about FRCC’s math programs.