Holy Monday; The First Day of the Great and Holy Week


    Holy Monday is the first day of the Great and Holy Week, the seven days leading to Easter Sunday. The Greek Orthodox Church has dedicated this day in the memory of Joseph Pangalos.

    Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob. His virtuous personality and way of living had always bothered his older brothers who decided to rid themselves of his presence by selling him as a slave. Joseph arrived in Egypt, where he was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard.

    Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he refused. Angered by his running away from her, she made a false claim that he tried to rape her, and thus assured his imprisonment.

    He left prison when he interpreted one of the Pharaoh’s dreams. His predictions were seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, and advised the Pharaoh to store surplus grain, thus saving the people of Egypt.

    Following the prediction, Joseph became Vizier, under the name of Zaphnath-Paaneah. Among those who survived the famine was his family. When his brothers were on the verge of starvation, they sought help in Egypt and presented themselves in front of Joseph, who was responsible for food distribution. While they did not recognize their brother, he realized who they were and helped them, showing the greatness of his soul.

    Furthermore, on this day the Greek Orthodox Church 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.

    On Holy Monday, people across Greece, start the preparations for the celebration of Easter. In many villages around the country, the people paint their yards with white lines and the flower pots red, while also planting various flowers.