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The first of seven days leading up to Easter in the important Great and Holy Week for the Greek Orthodox Church is Holy Monday. The church has dedicated this day to the memory of Joseph Pangalos, the 11th son of Jacob.
Joseph was a virtuous character and chose to live his life as such — something which bothered his older brothers who decided to sell him as a slave. He was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard in Egypt. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he refused her advances. This enraged the rejected woman who then made false claims that Joseph tried to rape her and had him sent to prison.
Joseph left prison after interpreting one of Pharaoh’s dreams in which he predicted seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. He advised the Pharaoh to store a surplus grain, and by doing so, saved the people of Egypt.
Following the fulfillment of the prediction, Joseph became Vizier, under the name of Zaphnath-Paaneah and was responsible for food distribution in Egypt. His family survived the famine and as his brothers were on the verge of starving to death, they presented themselves to him and asked for his help. Although the brothers did not recognize Joseph, he realized who they were and helped them, showing the extraordinary greatness of his soul.
For the Greek Orthodox Church, Holy Monday is also known as the day which commemorates the withering of the fruitless fig tree; a symbol of judgment that will befall those who do not bring forth the fruits of repentance.
Also, for Greeks, Holy Monday commences the preparations for the celebration of Easter in villages across the country by people painting flower pots red, and by using paint to outline their yards with white lines.