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What does the Bible say about celebrating birthdays?

The internet teems with websites espousing that YHWH (Yahweh/God) does not want us celebrating our birthdays. When read in context, however, we see that this is not exactly true....

According to some websites, it's a sin to even think about celebrating the day of our birth! Why? What makes it a sin to rejoice being alive and having the privilege of living on God's Earth? Having a baby is a HAPPY occasion, one which parents celebrate! So why should we act like our birthdays are to be shunned? We're here for the privilege of celebrating who we are in God, and being thankful for having made it through another year!

Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does YHWH forbid us to celebrate joyous occasions in our lives - as long as we don't idolize the situation. We're supposed to concentrate on HIM always and remember HE is the reason for our being and doing. Nowhere does the Bible tell us NOT to be happy and rejoice over certain things, including the day of our birth.

And, honestly, how can we gauge someone's age if we do not count their birthdays? How would we know how old Noah, Moses, Methusaleh, Isaac and others were unless they had counted their birthdays? How would we count the 8 days for a brit-milah/ circumcision, unless we remembered the exact day the child was born?

While mankind has an obligation to refrain from substituting YHWH's moedim (His appointed times), nothing says we cannot celebrate a certain day - AS LONG AS it does not masquerade as a BIBLICAL holy day. There is no reason why one cannot celebrate or thank God for giving us life. (Just as there is no reason we should shun Mother's or Father's Day. After all, Scripture tells us to honor our father and mother (of course, not just on those days but every day).

But are birthdays pagan? Well, it's true that the ancient Greeks used to celebrate the births of their false gods. In the temple of Diana in places like Ephesus, the priests would bake cakes, put lit candles on those cakes and sing songs. But what does that have to do with US? We aren't celebrating the "birthdays" of pagan gods!

Take a look at this from Jeremiah who, who is clearly in a bad mood here:

Jeremiah 20: 14 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! 15 Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, "A child is born to you--a son!" 16 May that man be like the towns YHWH overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. 17 For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever. 18 Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?

From the above we see (1) that it is normal for a man to bring news to a father about his newborn; and (2) for that father to rejoice over the birth of a child. Other scriptures, such as Proverbs 23:25, also talk about parents rejoicing over the birth of their children. We even have Isaiah 7:14 suggesting that the birth of a son to a virgin is a sign of consolation forever! But, the only evidence of anyone "celebrating" their birthday in Scripture seems to be in the story of Herod Antipas who used the occasion to kill John the Baptist....

So, where does that leave us?

Scripture does seem to allow for the fact that people also celebrate in some fashion the major parts of their life by throwing feasts - like when the Prodigal Son returned home. To the rational mind, in other words, it would seem that it's not necessarily WRONG to celebrate something (even on an annual basis) AS LONG AS the celebration does not substitute for a moedim!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with marking your own birthday, or your anniversary, etc. But when you do, remember to turn it into an opportunity to thank YHWH for your life. Make it more ABOUT HIM than yourself. After all, HE created you! Everything in this world is ALL about Him!

If you're among those who go into debt every year to throw huge birthday bashes for your kid, and hiring clowns and singers and making enough racket to wake the whole neighborhood - that is totally "carnal" and "ungodly" and plain ol' going overboard...If atheists wish to engage in this nonsense, that's fine. But believers need to be less flamboyant, constantly remembering that this life is ALL ABOUT YHWH and our need to draw ever closer to Him.