Basically, it's the arrival of spring.
According to the ancient Pagan calendar, the holiday of Ostara marked the point of transition between dark, cold winter and life-giving spring. Festivities were held in honor of Eostre (also known as Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic goddess of fertility). And back in those days—when humans had to scrape by without the aid of central heating and microwaveable meals—the return of warm weather was cause for celebration, indeed. In the spirit of the holiday, households were decorated with symbolic items such as eggs, flowers, rabbits, and sweets.
That’s because our modern-day Easter is in fact a Christian adaptation of the same Pagan holiday. And consider Passover: This Jewish spring celebration falls around the same time of year and features a plate symbolically filled with greenery, sweet fruit, and eggs.
You can see the underlying theme. Regeneration, and the return of sunlight and nature, is at the core of Spring, or Vernal Equinox, which traditionally falls around March 20 or 21. Astronomers can pinpoint the exact moment of the equinox.
An equinox happens only twice a year, and it signals the moment when night and day are the same length. (Hence the Latin name: aequus, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night.)
Related: Why We Celebrate the Winter Solstice
Equinoxes are also the middle point between the two solstices. Just as the Autumnal Equinox marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the winter solstice, the Spring Equinox arrives exactly three months after winter solstice, and three months before summer solstice. But unlike the Autumnal Equinox, which heralds winter—and all the preparation that entails—Spring Equinox is mostly a time to rejoice.
“I find Spring Equinox to have a peaceful energy, because it’s not a time of extremes,” noted Luke Simon, a Brooklyn-based healer and co-founder of Maha Rose. “The message is one of mercy and forgiveness and overcoming and being a survivor. Everyone’s made it through winter, there’s this sense of being reborn—a new lease on life.”
While the Vernal Equinox will likely beckon you outside, Simon warned that transitions between seasons can be sensitive. “It’s a magical energy, but you also have to be extra loving to your body and help that transition happen.”
He recommends holding a small, personal ceremony to help process emotions from the past few months, so that they aren’t carried over into the next season. “Write a few pages about what happened this winter, take them out into the garden and bury them. Go outside and reconnect to nature around you. Do any self-care, whatever that means for you.”
Related: When Is the Summer Solstice?
Spring Equinox is what Simon calls a “cosmic holiday,” meaning it is connected to an event in the solar system. But the equal amounts of day and night represent a fragile balance. “It’s like Star Wars,” he added, “with the perfect balance of good and evil. It’s a moment where we can tap into that alignment, so each side of the day and night feels rich and full.”