what is the meaning behind the starry night
In The Starry Night Van Gogh put a small church which resembles those common churches in his native Holland in the centre of the painting; on the left he painted a cypress in the foreground, whereas the small village and the swirling sky with bright orbs seem to blend into one another.
The planet Venus is represented as a star in this sky, and researchers have determined that in the spring of 1889, between the end of May and the beginning of June, it was indeed near its brightest possible. So Van Gogh really observed reality to paint this work.
“I feel a tremendous need for religion, so I go outside at night to paint the stars”.
Noted art historian Meyer Schapiro highlights the expressionistic aspects of The Starry Night, saying it was created under the “pressure of feeling” and that it is a “visionary [painting] inspired by a religious mood.”  Schapiro theorizes that the “hidden content”  of the work makes reference to the New Testament book of Revelation, revealing an “apocalyptic theme of the woman in pain of birth, girded with the sun and moon and crowned with stars, whose newborn child is threatened by the dragon.”  (Schapiro, in the same volume, also professes to see an image of a mother and child in the clouds in Landscape with Olive Trees,  painted at the same time and often regarded as a pendant to The Starry Night.) 
Van Gogh argued with Bernard and especially, Paul Gauguin as to whether one should paint from nature, as Van Gogh preferred,  or paint what Gauguin called “abstractions”:  paintings conceived in the imagination, or de tête.  In the letter to Bernard, Van Gogh recounted his experiences when Gauguin lived with him for nine weeks in the fall and winter of 1888: “When Gauguin was in Arles, I once or twice allowed myself to be led astray into abstraction, as you know. . . . But that was delusion, dear friend, and one soon comes up against a brick wall. . . And yet, once again I allowed myself to be led astray into reaching for stars that are too big—another failure—and I have had my fill of that.”  Van Gogh here is referring to the expressionistic swirls which dominate the upper center portion of The Starry Night. 
In comparison, all three interpretations are similar as they connect with each other but are also different because of the different themes of hope, mental health and religion. Van Gogh’s hope and mental health connect because he is finding hope in the darkest years of his life. Religion connects to that because religion has given him hope and helped him with his mental health because he feels less isolated as Joseph’s story has similar emotions as Van Gogh’s life.
The second interpretation focuses on the cypress tree, a prominent element of Starry Night. Van Gogh may have identified himself with the looming cypress tree in the foreground of the infamous painting. It is a plant that reoccurs in several of his paintings, such as the painting pictured below:
Some people have speculated about the eleven stars in the painting. While it’s true that Vincent didn’t have the same religious fervour in 1889, when he painted the work, as he did in his earlier years, there is a possibility that the story of Joseph in the Old Testament may have had an influence on the composition of the work.
New York: The Museum of Modern Art
Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh lived well in the hospital; he was allowed more freedoms than any of the other patients. If attended, he could leave the hospital grounds; he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room. He was even given a studio. While he suffered from the occasional relapse into paranoia and fits – officially he had been diagnosed with epileptic fits – it seemed his mental health was recovering.
Unfortunately, he relapsed. He began to suffer hallucination and have thoughts of suicide as he plunged into depression. Accordingly, there was a tonal shift in his work. He returned to incorporating the darker colors from the beginning of his career and Starry Night is a wonderful example of that shift. Blue dominates the painting, blending hills into the sky. The little village lays at the base in the painting in browns, greys, and blues. Even though each building is clearly outlined in black, the yellow and white of the stars and the moon stand out against the sky, drawing the eyes to the sky. They are the big attention grabber of the painting.
Starry Night is one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. It is absolutely everywhere, too. It can be seen on coffee, mugs, t-shirts, towels, magnets, etc. Honestly, it sometimes feels as if the painting’s fame has exceeded that of its creator. It is a magnificent piece of art. That Starry Night resonates with so many people is a testament to how its beauty is timeless and universal.