What Does The Bible Say About Celebrating Birthdays

The Bible doesn’t have much to say directly about celebrating birthdays. Birthdays, and the concept of age, were rare during biblical times. They weren’t seen as a significant milestone or important calendar event, like they are in many cultures today. While some might search the Bible for a direct command, there isn’t one.

The Bible includes instances of birthdays being observed, but those are complex stories. Herod the Great famously killed a number of children after the wise men told him of the birth of Jesus.1 Pharaoh also killed infants on the day of Moses’ birth.2 Pharaoh’s daughter celebrated Moses’s birthday by saving him from his fateful assent down the Nile River.3 Jezebel celebrated a feast in honor of Baal’s birthday.4 None of these stories, however, suggest that a Christian should celebrate their birthday.

In fact, the bible gives us a few reasons why a Christian shouldn’t celebrate their birthday. In the book of Luke, Jesus says burying an old person’s body is more important than honoring a baby at a birthday celebration.5 That example alone could be seen as showing us that birthdays are not as important as many give them credit for. Additionally, in the fourth commandment, God commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy and remember it.6 Every other day is incidental to that directive, making it difficult to create a Biblical rationale for celebrating birthdays.

Even today, there is a lack of agreement among authoritative figures about whether a Christian should celebrate their birthday. While some Christian churches continue to celebrate birthdays as a way to give thanks to God for the gift of life, other congregations believe birthdays are pagan in nature and focus on the past instead of continuing to consecrate the present towards the growth of the soul. For example, the Christian Science church believes birthdays are distractions from spiritual growth, so it does not celebrate them as a matter of official doctrine. Catholic doctrine allows the celebration of birthdays, but only in a low-key manner.

Though there is not a clear consensus from religious leaders, several Chritians share the same belief: birthdays should be celebrated as an opportunity to pause and appreciate both divine and earthly gifts. Christian author C.S. Lewis said, “Is any day better to give thanks than the day on which you were born?”7 We still honour our birthdays and cherish every moment of life.

Significance of Celebrating Birthdays in Today’s World

In the modern world, birthdays represent an important milestone of life and are often celebrated accordingly. As children transition into adulthood, birthdays can be a time to celebrate while recognizing the struggles associated with growing up and the resilience that has allowed growth to happen. As adults, birthdays can signify the long-term commitment to a particular journey, and the acknowledgement of that particular life. Family and friends come together to witness it, commemorate it and connect.

Celebrating birthdays is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate growth, both spiritually and physically. It’s an opportunity to pause and remember the divine gift of life and all that comes with it. Birthdays are a time to bond with family and friends and share in the joys of life, however big or small. We tend to think of milestones in life, such as a graduation, a marriage, and the birth of a new job opportunity as moments to celebrate and remember. Birthdays, especially the annual celebrations, are no exception.

Ultimately, we can use our birthdays as times to draw closer to God and focus on the significance of life’s gifts. As Bible scholar and author Dr. R.T. Kryger writes, “Among the more meaningful birthday remembrances we shall offer today, let us never forget to give thanks to Him whose grace and mercy have preserved us yet another year.”8 Each day lived is an opportunity to be thankful, and the celebration of our birth is no exception.

The Meaning of Birthdays in Scripture

To understand the meaning of celebrating a birthday, one must look to scripture to find further insight. In Matthew 19, Jesus lives a remarkable life on this earth and reaches his twelfth birthday. It says that on that day, Jesus went to the Temple in Jerusalem and amazed the teachers of the law by his knowledge and understanding of the Bible. This passage shows us the significance of age and understanding in the Bible. It is a reminder that as we grow older, we learn more, and as such, each year is an opportunity to increase in knowledge and understanding of God and his word.

The celebration of birthdays in the Bible has a much greater emphasis than just age. God gave us life and we should be thankful for it, each and every day. That said, birthdays are a special time to celebrate the gift of life God has given us and to reciprocate a portion of that gift by celebrating with our families and friends.

In Exodus 23:17, God says, “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread…for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.” The fact that God says to observe the feast of the unleavened bread in the month of Abib is significant, as this is a reference to the month of Aviv and the start of the ancient Hebrew year – the month of birth. As a result, this passage is widely seen as reaffirming the importance of birthdays in the Bible.

What it Means to Celebrate a Birthday in the Modern World

Today, celebrating birthdays is seen as a way to appreciate the people and things we have in our life. It’s a time to recognize the blessings of age and the life journey we are on. It’s a time to respect and reflect on the wonderful gift of life we have been given by God. Birthdays can serve as momentous occasions to pause, and show appreciation to those special people in our lives.

Celebrating birthdays can be as big or as small as we like. We can choose to celebrate with a full-blown party, or a quiet dinner with family and friends. We can choose to make it religious or secular in nature. We can choose to go all-out, or be more subdued. No matter what we decide to do, birthdays are a wonderful time to celebrate and be thankful for the wonderful gift of life.

Focus on Giving Thanks

Ultimately, birthdays are an occasion to be thankful to God and to reflect on the blessings of life. While it’s easy to get caught up in the party planning and decorations, the most important task is to make sure that the celebration of life is at the center. We can do this by focusing on thanksgiving and remembering God with the time we spend with family and friends.

Psalms 30:5 says: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Birthdays are a perfect occasion to remember that while there may be sadness and pain in life, joy is only a moment away. Celebrating birthdays can lead us to a better understanding of the divine gifts that come with each new year.

Let Birthdays be a Reminder To Always be Thankful

The Bible does not specify whether we should or shouldn’t celebrate our birthdays. Instead, it provides us with several examples of how to properly use birthdays as occasions for thanksgiving. It’s up to individuals and families to decide on the level of celebration, but it is important to remember to always be thankful for the gift of life.

Our birthdays offer us an opportunity to show appreciation to God for his continued grace and mercy. Birthdays are a reminder to live life to its fullest, to enjoy the joys of life, and to always offer thanks to God and others.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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