The Roots of the Holiday
The U.S. Congress might have officially recognized National Pi Day in 2009, but the roots of the holiday trace back to 1988.
Enter Larry "The Prince of π" Shaw, a beloved figure at the Exploratorium, San Francisco's renowned science museum [source: Exploratorium]. After the passing of the Exploratorium's founder, Frank Oppenheimer, Shaw crafted the idea of "π Day." The date, March 14 (or 3.14), fittingly echoes the initial digits of pi.
Even better, March 14 is also Albert Einstein's birthday, making π Day the ultimate geeky double-header.
The first π Day celebration was nothing more than Shaw and his wife handing out slices of fruit pie and tea at 1:59 PM (the three digits following 3.14), but the holiday quickly gained fame in the Bay Area.
Shaw eventually built the "Pi Shrine" at the Exploratorium, a circular classroom with a circular brass plaque at its center. Every Pi Day celebration at the Exploratorium ended with a colorful parade led by Shaw blasting his boombox (with a remix of "Pomp and Circumstance" set to the digits of pi) and circling the Pi Shrine exactly 3.14 times. The parade ended with the singing of "Happy Birthday" to Albert Einstein.
Celebrating π Day Worldwide
The Prince of π passed away in 2017, but the annual Exploratorium party continues, as do π Day celebrations the world over. How can you celebrate this quirky day?
- Baking and eating: The wordplay between "pi" and "pie" isn't lost on enthusiasts. Pies and other circular treats become the delectable heroes of the day.
- Crafting with pi: Unleash creativity with a construction paper pi chain, where every 10 digits adopt a different hue. Or, immerse in art by creating collages brimming with circular patterns.
- Testing memory: Challenge friends in a pi memorization contest! Want to aim high? Consider the Pi World Ranking List. For context, Suresh Kumar Sharma from India set a record in 2015, recalling an astounding 70,030 digits of pi in just over 17 hours. Starting with the first 20 digits might be more achievable for most [source: National Pi Day]!
This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.