Mark your calendars for this week's somewhat unusual holidays.
This Saturday, April 13, is Thomas Jefferson Day.
Founding Father Jefferson was born April 13, 1743. He is best-known for being the author of the Declaration of Independence, a champion of religious freedom and the founder of the University of Virginia.
Jefferson was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and had red, wavy hair — which you seldom see in paintings as men of the time often wore white wigs.
Jefferson was the first American president to shake hands instead of bow, the first president to have a grandchild born in the White House and the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
Thomas Jefferson's favorite vegetable was the English pea. He grew 15 different varieties at Monticello so he could enjoy them throughout the growing season.
Jefferson collected fossils and was particularly interested in the mammoth. The bones of a mastodon are displayed at Monticello.
It took him 40 years to build Monticello, but he also is responsible for designing the rotunda at the University of Virginia and the Virginia Capitol building in Richmond.
He loved wine
Jefferson is believed to have formed his love of wine while living in France. He was seen as one of the few wine experts in America in Colonial days and even ran two vineyards at Monticello.
He was a foodie
It wasn't just wine that Jefferson loved: It's believed he's responsible for popularizing such foods as mac and cheese, ice cream and french fries.
He was a reader, too
When he wasn't drinking wine or eating his favorite foods, Jefferson was a voracious reader. It's believed he had the largest private collection of books in America — 6,500 volumes or so.
An extended family
A DNA test in 1998 proved — as suspected — that Jefferson did indeed father children with Sally Hemings, a slave who worked as a chambermaid, seamstress and nursemaid to his children. Jefferson eventually freed all of Hemings' children, but did not extend that kindness to other slaves on his estate.
A striking death date
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In an odd coincidence, John Adams, the only other signer of the Declaration of Independence to become president and a former adversary of Jefferson's, died just hours later. Modern scholars have speculated that Jefferson, 83, and Adams, 90, were both in poor health but mentally held on until the 50th anniversary before their bodies gave out.
Other holidays this week
- Monday, April 8: Zoo Lovers Day
- Tuesday, April 9: Chinese Almond Cookie Day
- Wednesday, April 10: Bookmobile Day
- Thursday, April 11: Eight Track Tape Day
- Friday, April 12: Licorice Day
- Saturday, April 13: Scrabble Day
- Sunday, April 14: Dolphin Day