Bulgarian Spring Holidays

From June 2000 – June 2002 I had the opportunity to live and work in Bulgaria as a US Peace Corps Volunteer. During my 2 years in Bulgaria, I had the opportunity to learn about the culture, people as well as unique traditions and holidays of this country. While we may not notice the change in temperatures, here in Northern California, as much as other parts of the US or world, we welcome spring as a time of growth and rejuvenation.

March 1st – Baba Marta Day

  • Baba Marta (Grandma March) is known in folklore as a feisty old woman – and when she smiles, the sun comes out during the winter months. On this day, it is common for Bulgarians to give each other martenitsa (red and white yarn in the form of a bracelet or two dolls) and wish each other Chestita Baba Marta (Female) or Chestit Baba Marta (Male). The martenitsa can be worn or kept  until you see a stork, swallow or blossoming tree – then you are to placate it on a tree. This signifies the coming of Spring and it is quite common at the end of March to see trees adorned with red and white yarn. 

March 3rd – Liberation Day

  • This day commemorations the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. The re-establishment of Bulgaria’s statehood during the Russo-Turkish War which occured in 1877-1878. In Bulgaria, there are 400 preserved monuments and on this day, flowers, wreaths, and notes are placed at the monuments in memory of the Russians soldiers who died fighting for the liberation of Bulgaria. 

March 8th – International Women’s Day

  • International Women’s Day defines this day as, “…a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women”. Growing up in California and prior to living in Bulgaria, I do not remember this holiday being celebrated. It is common for men in Bulgaria to give women a single rose on this day, to signify their support of gender equality. 

What special holidays does your country celebrate during this time of year? In learning about the traditions and holidays celebrated in Bulgaria throughout the year, it made me think of my own traditions and holidays that I grew up celebrating, and how I can share with others about them. 

Author: Suzanne Pendergrass

Assistant Director, International Student and Scholar Services

International Student and Scholar Services, SJSU

Global Spartan Month 2021

ISSS and our College of Professional and Global Education (CPGE) partners are pleased to bring you Global Spartan Month during the month of March. Join us in celebrating international education and cultural exchange through a series of workshops, fun social activities, and our Global Spartan Photo Contest!

View our website for a full calendar of events, and follow us on Instagram (@SJSUinternational) for the latest event updates. 

Here are a few events that might be of particular interest to International Students:

Make Connections (Social Events)

    • Global Connections: Mondays at 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (PT). Topics include Celebrating Women’s History Month (Mar. 1), International Games (Mar. 8), Managing Perfektionism (Mar. 15), and Persian New Year Celebrations (Mar. 22)
    • ISSS x SAA x GSN Social Mixer: March 5 | 3:00-4:00 PM (PT)). Have fun playing games and meeting your peers. Hosted by ISSS, Study Abroad & Away, and the Global Student Network.
    • Thursday Tea Time: Thursdays at 3:00-4:00 PM (PT). Join this casual, peer-led weekly meetup to destress and connect with fellow international students.


    • Sprintax Non-resident Tax Webinar for SJSU Students: March 3 | 1:00-2:00 PM (PT) Presented by Sprintax Tax Experts
    • Writing Workshop: Common Grammar & Punctuation Errors: March 10 | 12:00-1:00 PM (PT) Presented by the writing center
    • Strategies for Job Search Success: International Student & Alumni Panel: March 18 | 4:00-5:00 PM (PT) Panel includes 2 current international students and 2 SJSU international alumni who work for Apple and TikTok.

Food & Culture

    • Global Leader Chat on American Slang & Culture: March 3 | 7:00-8:00 PM (PT). Global Leaders share their experience and insight with American slang and culture.
    • Cultural Conversations: Exploring Social Justice: March 11 | 7:30-8:30 PM (PT) Presented by the MOSAIC Cross-Cultural Center, this interactive session is a chance to better understand what social justice means and how it impacts our lives.
    • Eating & Cooking in the U.S.: March 5, 12, 19 | 12:00-12:45 PM (PT) Presented by students in the Nutrition & Food Science program, this 3-part series was designed to help international students navigate food-related challenges such as where to access groceries on a budget, how to eat healthy in the U.S., and tips for cooking in a U.S. kitchen.

We hope you’ll join us for one or many events during Global Spartan Month! Follow us on Instagram for the latest updates.

Get Involved!

Whether you’re a new or continuing student, ISSS has many opportunities for you to connect with others, engage in our community, explore culture, and thrive here at SJSU. Even in this virtual environment, we’re here to support you and help you achieve academic success. Learn more about how to stay connected and get involved.

Stay Connected

  • Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @SJSUinternational for the latest event updates
  • Schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor
  • Have a quick question? Drop into our Zoom Q&A
  • Email us at international-office@sjsu.edu 
  • Chat with peers on the Sammy App (instructions below)

Upcoming Events

Weekly Events

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

    • Global Connections: Mondays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PT). Join our weekly meetup to connect with people from around the world, explore cultural topics, and learn tips for improving your overall well being. 
    • Thursday Tea Time @ 3:00 p.m. Global Leaders Song and Yuki host a weekly meetup. Come hang out with us, meet new people, relax, and have a good time! 


Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

  • Attend an F-1 Employment Workshop
  • Work Visas Made Easy: Practical Answers to work visas in the U.S.
    • February 26, 2021 | 1:00-2:30 p.m. (PT) | Register here | Learn more
    • Presented by David Gluckman, immigration attorney
  • Sprintax Tax Webinar for Non-Residents
  • Strategies for Job Search Success: International Student & Alumni Panel

Beyond Global Spartan Welcome

  • Cultural Conversations: Understanding U.S. Academic Culture
  • Global Leader Chat: Making Friends
  • Global Leader Chat: Study & Job Search Tips for International Students
  • Global Leader Chat: American Slang & Culture
  • Cultural Conversations: Exploring Social Justice

Writing Workshops

Our Writing Workshop Series is a collaboration with the SJSU Writing Center.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Lunar New Year 2021


Happy Lunar New Year!

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

We’re celebrating the Year of the Ox on Saturday, February 13, 2021 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (PT) with a virtual Lunar New Years Celebration. Register online, and join your Global Leaders for this fun, social mixer. Whether you celebrate the Lunar New Year regularly or just want to learn more about it, we invite you to join us!

Curious about how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in various cultures? We asked our Global Leaders to share more about how they celebrate in their home countries. Here’s what they shared…

Harry from Macau

  • How do you say, “Happy new year” in your language? “Gong hei fat choy” is the most common Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese.  It directly translates to “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”
  • What do you typically do to celebrate the Lunar New Year? Get a lot of money from my relatives, and then my mom will “keep” it for me
  • What special food do you eat at New Years? Chicken
  • What’s your favorite thing about New Years? Holiday from school.

Lunar New Years in Macau. Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Mindy from Vietnam

  • How do you say, “Happy new year” in your language? Chuc Mung Nam Moi
  • What do you typically do to celebrate the Lunar New Year? My family and I usually start to prepare for Lunar New Year, or Tet, about a week prior to the holiday. First of all, we would clean every corner of the house (because, strangely enough, dust brings luck, and so during the first three days of the year, you wouldn’t want to sweep the floor). We would also buy apricot blossoms, a few nice photo frames, and little pretty things to decorate around the house for many guests coming over on the first day. Of course, the adult will prepare red envelopes with lucky money insides, ready to give to the kids during Tet as a gesture of good luck.
  • What special food do you eat at New Years? Before, when I was little and my grandmother was

    Bahn Chung (sticky rice cakes) www.vietworldkitchen.com

    still healthy, she used to cook savory sticky rice cake and caramelized pork and eggs, which are special food for Tet. Both of the dishes take a lot of time (around two days), effort, and love to make. In recent years, since my brother, cousins, and I are all studying abroad during Tet, the adults at home celebrate with smaller and simpler dishes. My absolute favorite side dish is the Vietnamese-style salty vegetable pickles that can be eaten with sticky rice cake or porridge. I can happily enjoy it any single day.

  • What’s your favorite thing about New Years? I like how everyone tends to be nicer around this time of the year since we believe what we do and how we act on the first day of the year will set a standard for the whole year. On top of that, I like seeing my family together cleaning, cooking, and exchanging good wishes. I could only come home once to celebrate Tet in the past seven years of staying in the U.S., yet it left me lovely memories. My mom and cousins spent the whole day driving around Saigon to take Tet photos for me in my Vietnamese traditional dress.

Song from China

  • How do you say, “Happy new year” in your language? 新年好 Xin Nian Hao

    Writing spring couplets (www.ichongqing.info)

  • What do you typically do to celebrate the Lunar New Year? We always celebrate the lunar New Year with writing the spring couplet with good wishes and have a family reunion dinner together.
  • What special food do you eat at New Years? The Special food for Lunar New Year includes rice cake which we normally do not eat.
  • What’s your favorite thing about New Years? Able to get red envelope is my favorite.

Thi from Vietnam

  • How do you say, “Happy new year” in your language? Chúc mừng năm mới!
  • What do you typically do to celebrate the Lunar New Year?

    Visiting family during Tet (www.lafairy-sails.com)

    Lunar New Year usually means family time for me. On the first day of the year, we would dress up and visit our extended family. We also made a point to visit everyone’s house for good luck too! And there was always lucky money given around as we exchange best wishes to each other. 

  • What special food do you eat at New Years? My favorite Lunar New Year food was my mom’s ribs and dried bamboo soup. She would cook it in a huge pot and pair it with glass noodles. We usually end up eating it for the first week of New Year and towards the end everyone is just tired of it. But after a year of not eating the soup, the cravings always come back!
  • What’s your favorite thing about New Years? I live in Hanoi and we have a large portion of the population come here for work and have families living in other parts of the country. During Lunar New Year there will always be an atmosphere of joy when people finally have the chance to go home and visit their family. So my favorite thing about Lunar New Year is that it represents going home and spending time with your loved ones.

Yuyi from China

  • How do you say, “Happy new year” in your language? 新年快乐 Xīnnián kuàilè
  • What do you typically do to celebrate the Lunar New Year? We usually have a family dinner together, make dumplings together, cut window decorations, and write Spring Festival couplets.
  • What special food do you eat at New Years? Dumplings
  • What’s your favorite thing about New Years? Lucky envelope!

Lucky envelope or red envelope, often filled with money, symbolize good fortune and prosperity. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Would you like to share about your favorite holiday, festival, or cultural tradition? We’d love to hear your voice in our blog. Please email us at isss-programs@sjsu.edu with your ideas.

Beyond Global Spartan Welcome

Beyond Global Spartan Welcome is an opportunity to connect with our Global Spartan Community, explore cultural topics, and prepare for academic success. It’s designed to help international students  navigate cultural, social, and academic transitions. Beyond GSW is made up of three components: Cultural Conversations, Global Leader Chats, and ISSS Workshops.

Cultural Conversations

Cultural Conversations are interactive hour-long sessions covering intercultural topics such as Navigating Cultural Transitions and Exploring Social Justice. Explore aspects of American culture, and share your own cultural perspectives while connecting with SJSU students and staff from across campus.

Global Leader Chats

Global Leader Chats are informal conversations facilitated by our Global Leaders and focused on student life topics like Zoom Culture, Canvas Basics, Making Friends, and American Slang & Culture. These chats were developed by Global Leaders, and they’re a great way to get peer advice and make new friends. You can get a head start and meet the Global Leader team in this blog post.


ISSS Workshops cover a variety of topics from F-1 Employment Options to PowerPoint Like a Pro. We partner with the Writing Center and Career Center to bring you a writing workshop series and a career development series each semester. This spring, you can look forward to a Writing Workshop on Personal Statements for Scholarship Applications and a Job Search Success Panel Discussion with current international students and alumni.

We hope you’ll join us and Go Beyond!