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American pies are cooling on the windowsill ahead of Pi Day

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Today in the US, home of the crazily backward (if you're not American) date arrangement, it's Pi day because its March 14 or 3.14.

This is the day that Americans (but not Europeans, obviously) celebrate the mathematical constant that frames our science and maths along with the birthday of Albert Einstein.

A mathematical constant, by the way, that the Americans are lucky to still have, after a bill put forward in the Indiana Assembly in 1897 to assign pi a number of designations, none of them correct, narrowly failed to make it onto the statute book.

"Since the rule in present use fails to work ... it should be discarded as wholly wanting and misleading in the practical applications," the draft bill declared, adding that the number should be 3.2, 4 or 3.1 based on various calculations, fully explained here on The Straight Dope website.

The Pi holiday has only been kicking around for a few years, having been first created in 1988 but only officially recognised by the US House of Representatives in 2009 - but it's already picking up some of the hallmarks of any good celebration.

In order to make this a real holiday, Pi Day has to have a food. Christmas has turkey, Easter has eggs, birthdays have cake, what could Pi Day have? Yes, very good, pie!

The San Francisco Chronicle Blog has a tempting list of places to get pie today, in the form of a picture slideshow, featuring such mouthwatering offerings as salty honey walnut pie, organic peach pie with goat's milk ice cream and rosemary sugar, and Buko pie, a Filipino pie made of young coconut custard.

Good holidays should also have a song or two attached to them and there are a surprising number of contenders to get you in the mood for some maths posted on Youtube, including the Pi Rap (above), "Lose Yourself in the Digits" - based on rap-stylings of Eminem and "made by a 7th grade math teacher for students in the ghetto of Louisville, Kentucky" and the inevitable parodies of notorious Youtube star Rebecca Black's Friday.

And of course, to be a proper grown-up well-established holiday, there should be greeting cards that pi-lovers can send to their friends and family and merchandise they can buy.

Some classics include the "cute ecard" from 123greeting.com sending an infinite number of hugs to someone, "just like the infinity of pi" and the usual lot of t-shirts, badges, mugs, etc from Piday.org.

If none of that takes celebrants' fancy, they should sit around and memorise the digits of pi in an attempt to beat the world record of 67,890 digits of pi recited over 24 hours, set by Lu Chao in 2005. ®

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