After years of overspending, Greece and other heavily indebted nations need the sacrifice and budget discipline symbolized by Ash Wednesday and Lent.
European Union (EU) leaders promised on Thursday that they stand waiting to help debt-laden Greece, if needed. But the euro declined as investors worried about the lack of a clear commitment to a bailout package.
Polls show that nearly two-thirds of Greeks support austerity measures to deal with the Greece debt crisis. But taxi drivers, facing new gas taxes, went on strike Thursday.
Stocks rallied in the US and in Europe on Tuesday on expectations of an emergency European Union bailout for Greece. But Greece, with a ballooning national debt, is not out of the woods yet.
Five days of protests, and a nationwide strike Wednesday, have shaken the conservative ruling party.