Will you bake a pie on March 14 to celebrate Pi Day? Or will you celebrate with some calculation using the symbol π, which is the Greek letter for Pi?
Until about one week ago I knew nothing about Pi Day which has been celebrated internationally since 1988. In 2009 the United States House of Representatives gave March 14 recognition with a house resolution. To my knowledge, no Canadian government has granted Pi Day — nor Pie Day — an acknowledgement of any kind.
Pi day is largely an event for math geeks. It began as a method to pay homage to 3/14 (March 14) or 3.14, a mathematical constant to calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The constant is 3.14159 but is usually shortened to 3.14 or 22/7.
Pi Day for Mathematicians
The American Mathematical Society urges schools and universities to hold mathematical contests in celebration of Pi Day. Teachers plan classroom celebrations to calculate the circumference and area of various round or cylindrical objects in a classroom. Most kids love solving math problems especially if it’s a problem that may yield a delicious and edible prize! Many universities hold math challenges and team contests with cash prizes.
Pi Day is an opportunity to draw attention to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) professions. As well as STEM professionals, Pi (π) is needed by statisticians, astronomers, physicists, architects, and construction workers as a basic tool for calculations everywhere that circles are used.
Pie Traditions for Non-Mathematicians
Never a lover of mathematical calculations, I will celebrate Pi Day with some crusty concoction. Both my mother and my late sister made excellent pastry. A pie for dessert happened weekly. Favourites included apple, rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, raspberry, Saskatoon berry, and raisin pie. When a fruit filling wasn’t available, a one-crust custard pie was served, usually accompanied with whipped cream. The leftover pastry was made into sweet butter tarts.
My UK friends tell me that the term pie is used for a two crust pie. If the pie has only one pastry crust, it is called a tart. A South African friend who is an excellent cook uses the term ‘pie’ for savoury meat pies. My mouth waters for those pepper steak pies, chicken pot pies, and steak and kidney pies. In the savoury class, quiche is a reliable standby when prepared with tasty Jarlsberg and thickened with eggs.
The famous French Canadian Tourtiére is a favourite savoury pie. Made from minced pork, minced beef, minced veal, onions, potato and spices, tourtiéres are traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Venison adds a wonderful flavour but it’s seldom available in a butcher shop or market. Occasionally a friend who hunts shares some of this wonderful game meat to add to tourtiéres!
Finally, what modern household doesn’t rely on a pizza pie order on a busy day when there is no time for cooking? Nobody at our house uses 3.14 to calculate the circumference when discussing whether the order should be one large or two medium. Brought to the door when it’s hot and tasty, we have no worries about pi except for finding forks and plates!
Thanks for reading my post. Happy Pi Day to all readers!