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Believers and Birthdays

(Does God Endorse Them)

 

 

          Many people today celebrate the day of their birth.  It is so common that it would seem very odd to even think that God might be offended by such a practice.  However, the question should be asked, does God have an opinion regarding our celebration of the day of our birth?  This is a question that this article will try to answer.  I want to state up front that there is not a clear cut answer in the scripture (at least I haven't found one).  In other words, there is not a scriptural law that says we should not practice birthdays, but you can infer this from some passages.  Please read with an open mind and understand that each believer needs to decide for themselves if they should practice birthdays or not.  It is the intent of this article to demonstrate that birthdays are not endorsed by the scriptures and believers should not practice them.

 

Birthdays in History:

 

          It might surprise some to hear that birthdays have a pagan origin.  Though it seems innocent enough, the idea comes from witchcraft.  “Originally the idea [of birthdays] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time"  (Ralph and Adelin Linton, The Lore of Birthdays, 1953, p. 20).  People who celebrated birthdays did so in an attempt to reach the occult.  This day is considered the highest day of the year for a witch or warlock (Lavey A, Gilmore P, The Satanic Bible, 1976, p. 96).  The intent is to seek out the occult to receive special blessings on your special day.

          If we think about it, all the traditions we do on birthdays have an occult meaning.  Here is a short list of some of these traditions:

 

      * Cakes   Ancient pagans believed the fire from the candles had magic powers.  These represented their prayers to their pagan gods.
      *  Hats   The cone hat from birthdays have a clear connection to the witches cone hat in history.
      *  Gifts   The receiving of gifts on ones birthday is associated with sacrifices to pagan gods.  On this day you are the god receiving the sacrifice.  This is why we make wishes when we blow out the candles.  We want to receive a blessing from the gods and the candles carry the prayers for us.
      *  Stars  Ancient pagans believed that the position of the stars at the time of one's birth had great meaning in the future of that person.  This is where horoscopes come from.  God intended the moon, stars, and sun to be used to distinguish times and seasons (Gen. 1:14), but not this way.

 

          As you look at some of the birthday customs today you can clearly see the connection to pagan witchcraft.  Ancient pagan man used birthdays as a means to appease their god, to exalt themselves, and to receive special blessings.  This clearly is not a biblical practice.

 

Birthdays in the Early Church:

 

          To my knowledge, there is no record of any of the Apostles, or early church fathers, who celebrated their birthdays.  However, there are records of early church fathers who condemn the practice.  Origen of Alexandria stated, "Of all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners who make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world below" (Origen of Alexandria, in Levit., Hom. VIII, in Migne P.G., XII, 495, from the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10).  The Catholic writer Arnobius, from the third century wrote, "you worship with couches, altars, temples, and other service, and by celebrating their games and birthdays, those whom it was fitting that you should assail with keenest hatred" (Arnobius, Against the Heathen, Chapter 64).  Many other church fathers wrote against birthdays as well.

          In fact, the Jews have always held that the practice of celebrating one's birth was against the scriptures.  Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, wrote, "Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the birth of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess" (Josephus, Josephus Complete Works, 1977, p. 632).  The Encyclopedia Judaica states, "The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual" (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol.4, p.1054).  There are numerous quotes from Jewish sources that validate this claim.  It wasn't until recently that the Jews started accepting the practice of birthdays.

 

Birthdays in the Scriptures:

 

          As stated earlier, the scripture does not speak directly to the topic of birthdays, but we can infer some things.  Here are some scriptures commonly used to demonstrate God's displeasure with the celebration of birthdays.

  • The Scriptures only mention two different birthday celebrations.  Each of these celebrations were by pagan men and each contained an evil done on that day.  The first of which is the birthday of Pharaoh in Genesis 40:20-22.  Here the Pharaoh had one prisoner killed and one prisoner freed.  The second is Herod's birthday in Mark 6:21, 25-28.  Here Herodias' daughter danced for Herod and was promised anything she wanted.  She asked for John the Baptist's head on a silver platter.  This was promptly carried out.

  • There is a law which bans witchcraft and sorcery (Deut. 18:10-12).  We have already seen the connection between witchcraft and birthdays.

  • Job, a righteous man, had great concern for his children who practiced birthdays (Job 1:4-5).  Here Job sacrificed to the Lord out of concern that his children had a feast on their birthday.  Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5).  Apparently Job offered sacrifices for his children regularly for celebrating birthdays.

  • The Prophet Jeremiah cursed the day he was born (Jer. 20:14-18).

  • Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1-5).

  • Solomon stated, "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth" (Eccl. 7:1).

          Though these verses do not directly state that birthdays are not to be followed, they do imply that they are a negative practice.  It seems clear to me that the many negative aspects the scripture mentions relating to birthdays is cause enough to stop the practice.  All this aside, there is one more reason stronger than all to not practice birthdays.  If we are following the Hebrew calendar, the practice of birthdays is impossible.  Remember, the Hebrew calendar is not a set calendar.  In fact, you can hardly call it a calendar at all.  The Hebrew calendar is based on the crops and the moon.  When the first crops of the year turn green, the next new moon is the first day of the first month abib (Ex. 12:2, 13:4, , Deut. 16:1).  The Hebrew word for abib is 'âbı̂yb which means, "to be tender, green, that is a young ear of grain" (Strong's Concordance - H24).  The first day of the year changes each year and therefore the day of your birth is different each year.  You can hardly call this celebrating your birthday when the calendar being used fluctuates.  This alone has caused me to believe that the practice of birthdays is not endorsed by the God of the scriptures.  If it were endorsed, His calendar would provide a way to celebrate it.

 

          The evidence seems clear to me, although not directly stated, that believers are not to celebrate birthdays.  If we were supposed to celebrate birthdays, God's calendar would have provided a way for us to celebrate them.  If we were supposed to celebrate birthdays, the scriptures would have provided us the date of the Messiah's birth so we can celebrate it.  If we were supposed to celebrate birthdays, there would have no doubt been a positive example of this celebration in the scripture.  As it stands, there is not one piece of evidence from the scriptures to validate the celebration of the day of our birth.  It might be wise for us to error on the side of caution and avoid the practice in light of this evidence.  After all, if God wanted us to celebrate our birthdays, He probably would have made a law for it.

  

By Steve Siefken
 

  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth

not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV