Birthdays Sinful?

It is written:

Hosea 7:5-In the day of our king Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers.

Our religious friends, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, often claim that celebrating birthdays is a pagan practice and that Christians should have nothing to do with such celebrations.

What shall we say to this?

First, it is not true that only pagans in the Bible celebrated birthdays. Ken Johnson has well noted:

“According to, under their article entitled Birthday, it has always been customary to say a blessing in acknowledgement of one’s birthday. Anciently, the family would set up a feast. In Scripture we see that one should not get drunk on his birthday (Hosea 7: 5). Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3: 1) in contrast to celebrating it. Jeremiah asked that no one say their customary blessing on his birthday. “Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.” Jeremiah 20: 14 First Samuel 1: 23-24 shows they had a celebration at the weening of a child (usually at two years of age) and Genesis 21: 8 reveals that Abraham made a feast for Isaac the day he was weaned. Jasher 21: 1-8 records more details of this same feast. Guests included Shem and Eber (Noah’s son and grandson), Abraham’s father Terah, and many other nobles of the land. The Jews had a special ceremony called a Bar-Mitzva to celebrate a child coming of age (the birth of an adult). For a male it was on their twelfth birthday. We see the wedding feast at Canaan in John 2, so weddings were celebrated with a feast (weddings are the birthday of a couple). So, we can see that the ancient Hebrews celebrated birthdays, weanings, Bar-Mitzvas, and weddings usually with feasts. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90: 10,12 Counting our birthdays is one way of “numbering our days.” The celebration of a birthday is not uniquely pagan. It is therefore permissible if no idolatry is present.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Origins of Modern Holidays, 1739-1758 (Kindle Edition))

Second, the Bible places a GREAT deal of emphasis on the birthday of Jesus!

Isaiah 9:6-For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:10-18-Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15  So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Would God sanction birthdays in this way if such were a purely pagan practice?

Finally, Christians can celebrate birthdays without incorporating idolatry and paganism into such.

1 John 5:21-Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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