From taking advantage of the day itself to setting intentions that could carry through to March 2022, here's what you need to know to make the most of 2021's astrological new year.
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Every December 31, we gather around to watch a glimmering ball drop and scream, "Happy new year!" and hope that the next 12-month cycle will be as full of opportunity, health, and happiness as possible. But as far as astrology is concerned, a new year — and brand new cycle — begins almost three full months later, on the spring equinox.

It's not a completely foreign idea to think of springtime as the true start of the year. After all, January, February, and a good deal of March is often spent hibernating. But once daylight savings time kicks in, it's like there's a whole new vibe in the air — of hope, promise, brightness, excitement. And as far as astrologers are concerned, that goes hand-in-hand with the vibes of the first sign of the zodiac: cardinal fire sign Aries, which the sun moves into right around that spring equinox. In other words, Aries season marks the beginning of a whole new astrological cycle, and therefore, new year. It has also been coined International Astrology Day by the Association for Astrological Networking.

In 2021, the astrological new year falls on March 20. (Depending on when the sun moves into the sign of the Ram, the occasion might happen on the 21st some years.) We'll be in this new astrological cycle until March 20, 2022.

So should you pop champagne? Stay up until midnight? Here, all the details on this astrological new year and how to mark the special occasion.

How to Celebrate the Astrological New Year

What to Expect on Astrological New Year 2021

The main event on the astrological new year is, of course, the sun's move out of one whole 12-sign cycle and into a brand new one when it leaves the waters of emotional, empathic, psychic Pisces and moves into the fires of dynamic, bold, impulsive Aries. But it's also helpful to check out the other planetary moves happening on March 20 in order to get a sense of the day's energy — and the astrological year ahead.

With the intuitive moon in mutable air sign Gemini, which is ruled by messenger Mercury, the day and coming year will be marked by high mental energy, lots of communication, and — while we might need to maintain some physical distancing for a bit longer — our social lives could explode in a colorful, curious, fun-loving way.

The moon forms a sweet, harmonious trine to expansive Jupiter in Aquarius, making it possible to not only float through a whole bunch of emotions but share more about how you're feeling with loved ones and let your heart shine out in the world with generous gestures, such as giving to charity or doing volunteer work. It then forms a tense square to spiritual Neptune, which tends to cloud rational thought, indicating that we might have trouble differentiating between reality and fiction, illusion and facts. On the plus side, it could amplify sensitivity and make us all a bit gentler with one another, perhaps as we begin to process the collective trauma we've all lived through over the past year.

How to Mark the Occasion

During a new moon, we're offered a dark, blank canvas that's made for identifying and locking in intentions you want to see come to fruition over the coming months. The astrological new year and spring equinox present a similar opportunity. The day is perfect for clearing out what's unneeded, meditating on what is, and practicing rituals that help you seal the deal. You might also try to work within the themes that pop up in the astrology of the equinox (as described above). Here are ways to do just that.

Streamline

Airy Gemini energy — which will set the emotional tone for this next astrological cycle — is lively, curious, wide-eyed, and communicative, but it can also be unfocused and flighty. So you might want to take spring cleaning to the next level by not only sorting and Marie Kondo-ing material things you no longer need but also thinking about the relationships, work projects, and behaviors that aren't serving you anymore either. This can be an incredibly productive time to reflect on whether it's time to set boundaries or say no in order to focus even more on what is working — and to make room for bonds, professional paths, and habits that feel like a much better fit.

Research

A new year is always an opportunity to gather more information, and you could be even more inclined to do this, given the day's Mercury-ruled Gemini vibes. Whether you've been thinking about taking the plunge with that Peloton, want to map out vacation plans for later in the year, or are looking to network with someone who can help you makeover your resume and send it out for dream opportunities, you can find a lot of joy in learning and discussion now. But given that square to hazy Neptune, it could pay to double-check any crucial facts and figures.

Talk Through What You Want to Accomplish

With the moon in chatty Gemini forming a harmonious trine to expansive Jupiter in community-oriented Aquarius as the new year kicks off, it could be easier to not only be in your feelings but also talk about them. For that reason, you could benefit from working through whatever is coming up for you emotionally now in a cerebral, collaborative way, sharing the details with friends, loved ones, or a therapist. This process could help you feel like you're in a better position to release and heal any fears or pain swirling beneath the surface and heal before moving forward.

Rest and Practice an Intention-Setting Ritual

This can be a powerful moment to quiet the mind, rest the body, and get centered in yourself as you welcome a new cycle. Indulge in your favorite form of self-love — whether that's a CBD soak, mindfulness meditation, or sleeping in — and try to hit pause on nonstop action in order to be in the moment. Doing so will calm a perpetually buzzing brain (a trademark of Gemini) so you can then train your focus on a go-to, intention-setting ritual. Maybe that involves lighting a candle and saying a mantra, meditating, journaling, or creating a vision board to manifest what you want out of the astrological year ahead. Even just taking a step back from the daily grind to recharge (which should be somewhat easier than usual since the astrological new year falls on a Saturday this year) can feel incredibly grounding. By allowing yourself this chance to simply be and reflect, you'll not only be able to get clearer on what you want in your heart of hearts, but you'll be planting seeds that, over the course of the next 12 astrological seasons, are sure to flourish.

Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents, Astrology.com, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie