"Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation."
When the Lord first led us to the truth behind the pagan traditions known as “Christmas”, we abandoned them without hesitation (Letting Go of Christmas). Shocked that we would forgo participation in this “Christian season”, friends and family honored our stance last year, mostly believing we would “come to our senses” by this year and light up the old Christmas spirit! When that didn’t happen, we were encouraged to honor the season with a birthday party for Jesus by friends and church peers.
Well, we had already half-heartedly abandoned most of the traditions associated with birthdays anyway. We rejected the idea of the “all about me” day, with “all about me” plates, napkins, and party favors. We rejected gift giving and the expectations it fostered. We rejected the world’s ideas of celebration, but we fell somewhere in the midst of a compromise. We concluded that the best alternative to all the hoopla would be “a nice letter to the birthday person…praising their accomplishments for the year, showing affection and appreciation for your relationship with them, and wishing them well”…..yah, basically a Hallmark card.
This year, after the push to host or attend “birthday parties for Jesus”, we were drawn back to dig deeper on the subject.
Not surprisingly, the honoring of birthdays has its roots in pagan practice. Birthdays were kept and celebrated surrounding astrology, mythology, and folklores. So much has already been written about the history of these customs, it wouldn’t be prudent for me to try to rewrite it all. Instead, I will use the information I have found to answer a few basic questions. I encourage you to follow the links at the end of each quote to learn more for yourself. These are some of the questions my husband and I asked in search of truth.
Does the Bible talk about birthdays?
“We find that there are birthday celebrations mentioned in the Bible. The first account is Genesis 40:1-23. Here we read of the Pharaoh’s birthday which resulted in the baker’s death. Another time a birthday is mentioned is Herod’s birthday (Matthew 14:3-11) which resulted in the death of John the Baptist.– Should Christians Celebrate Birthdays?
Why/When did man begin to keep birthdays?
The introduction of the Egyptian calendar became linked to astrology and fortune-telling. The keeping of birthdays, then, was important in ancient times, essentially due to the fact that the date of one's birth was directly related to the casting of a person's horoscope (Linton, Ralph and Adelin, The Lore of Birthdays, p. 12).” – History of the Birthday Celebration
Why Wasn’t Anyone’s (Even Jesus’) ACTUAL Day of Birth Recorded in the Bible?
"Our (Roman) calendar is not Christian in origin. It descends directly from the Egyptians, who originated the 12 month year, 365 day system. A pagan Egyptian scientist, Sosigenes, suggested this plan to the pagan Emperor Julius Caesar, who directed that it go into effect throughout the Roman Empire in 45 B.C. As adopted it indicated its pagan orgin by the names of the months-called after Janus, Maia, Juno, etc. The days were not named but numbered on a complicated system involving Ides, Nones, and Calends. It was not until 321 A.D that the seven-day-week feature was added, when the Emperor Constantine (supposedly) adopted Christianity. Oddly enough for his weekdays he chose pagan names which are still used (Sunday, Moonday, Tiwsday, Wodensday, Thorsday, Friggasday, Saturnsday.)" (From "Journal of Calendar Reform," Sept. 1953, footnote p. 128. Italics ours.)
God's sacred Calendar committed to the Jews for preservation to our time has three months that vary in length from 29 to 30 days after a rather complicated pattern. God 's people certainly knew the date of their birth, but they kept track of their age by calendar years, not birth dates.” – Attached to This World
What Traditions are Associated with Birthday Celebrations?
“Long ago, people believed that on a birthday a person could be helped by good spirits, or hurt by evil spirits. So, when a person had a birthday, friends and relatives gathered to protect him or her. And that's how birthday parties began.
The idea of putting candles on birthday cakes goes back to ancient Greece. Artemis was the goddess of the moon. The Greeks celebrated her birthday once each month by bringing special cakes to her temple. The cakes were round like a full moon. And, because the moon glows with light, the cakes were decorated with lighted candles.
The reason for birthday spanks is to spank away any evil spirits and send them scurrying far into the distance. Punches, thumps, and pinches, the harder the better, are supposed to do the very same thing.
Party snappers, horns, bursting balloons, firecrackers, and other noisemakers are just one more way of trying to scare off any bad-luck spirits that may be hovering about.” -The Surprising Origin of Birthday Celebrations
Does it Matter to God if we Observe Cultural Traditions?
Here is what God commands: “Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed by them. For the customs of the people are vain” (Jer. 10:2, 3).
After God freed Israel from slavery, He clearly instructed them, “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall you not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do: neither shall you walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). God commanded that they not defile themselves with the practices and customs of the surrounding nations (vs. 24-29). “Therefore shall you keep My ordinance, that you commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God” (vs. 30).
This is an emphatic command from God. He does not want His servants dabbling in the customs of this world.” -Are Birthday Celebrations “Christian”?
How Can Birthday Parties Help or Hurt our Spritual Growth?
“If our purpose is to build godly and holy offspring and loving, giving, godly children, then we should want to do NOTHING that would hinder this godly purpose – put no temptations in their pathway – do nothing to encourage them to think too highly of themselves in pride and arrogance. Rather, we should teach them to give, to serve, to be humble, to revere God and His Word, and to love others and seek to help, serve, and honor them. “ -The Surprising Origin ofBirthday Celebrations
What About Jesus’ Birthday?
The Bible does not document the day of Jesus’ birth, nor does the Lord command that it be remembered and celebrated annually. When the angels wondrously announced the Lord’s birth, it was in celebration of his arrival, prophetic fulfillment, and the hope He brought in to the world. Making cupcakes with little nativity scenes and singing “Happy Birthday to Jesus” hardly evokes the reverence and understanding necessary to fully appreciate His miraculous birth. The devil (originally assisted by the Catholic church and now by ignorant Christians) wants to keep Jesus as a baby…helpless…wrapped in swaddling cloth…and laying in a manger. The world puts him there every year and calls it Christmas. They pull Him out of glory, back from victory, and lay him back in the manger – before the blood was shed- helpless and new. And if the nativity scene on a church lawn wasn’t already patronizing to an infinite and awesome God, the world wants us to don party hats and sing to a “baby” in a manger, while our true Lord and Savior watches from His throne.
What About Our Birthday?
Surely, if a day set apart to honor one’s birth was not commanded by scripture for the Lord himself, how could we partake in such self-worship. The social expectations of gifts and praise, and the participation of left-over pagan customs seem to condemn the practice anyway. Although, we must track our age and acknowledge the annual passing of time, a day to “celebrate yourself” for a people called to “deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross daily” seems contradictory and smells suspiciously like the world. As for our family, our consciences can only be cleared by walking away from birthdays all together.