Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate birthdays?
June 23, 2009
Everything in the Bible has been written for a reason, and thankfully, Jehovah has made sure that birthdays be mentioned in his word. Birthdays are mentioned twice in the Bible:
In Genesis 40:20-22, we read about a Pharaoh’s birthday. At his birthday, he (the Pharaoh) takes two of his servants out from jail: the head of the cupbearers (which are those who would place a cup in Pharaoh’s hand), and the head of the bakers. However, Pharaoh was not being a “hero” by taking them out of jail, as he was the one who put them there in the first place. He put the head of the cupbearers back to his position as he who would put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But, as we read in verse 22, the head of bakers was hung.
For those of you who are wondering what the end of verse 22 (“…just as Joseph had given them the interpretation.”) is talking about, Joseph was a faithful servant of Jehovah who was given the ability to interpret dreams. In summary, while the men were in prison, they both had strange dreams and could not understand what they meant but knew they had to mean something. Joseph interprets their dreams for them and basically tells the head of cupbearers that he would return to his post, while the head of bakers would be killed.
The other case mentioned in the Bible is found in Matthew 14: 6-10. When King Herods was celebrating his birthday, Herodias’s daughter danced for Herods. Because he enjoyed her dance so much, he told her infront of everyone in attendance that whatever she wanted, he would give to her. She asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. John the Baptist, for those who do not know, was an excellent, God-fearing man (after all, he was the one who was chosen to baptize Jesus!). Herods knew that the request was a horrible thing to execute, but because he was the king and had said to the girl that he would do whatever she asked in front of everyone, he didn’t want the people to think less of him as king for not going through with his promise. John, in prison for being faithful to Jehovah, was beheaded in prison and his head was put on the platter and taken to the girl just as she had requested.
Now, what did both accounts have in common? They resulted in murder. And in the second case, we see that John the Baptist was beheaded! A faithful servant to Jehovah! Innocent yet killed in this brutal matter because the dancer’s mother did not like John/did not share his faith, so she took that chance to have him killed even though the king was saddened that this was the request. Because these two accounts (the one found in Genesis and the one found in Matthew) are the only instances where birthdays are mentioned in the Bible, and because both times birthdays are very evidently portrayed as a celebration resulting in murder and injustice, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays.
Some of you may be thinking, “But that was a long time ago. People don’t send for others to be killed at birthday parties anymore.” While we don’t hear of things like this happening at all birthday parties of course, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we refrain from celebrating birthdays because we feel that Jehovah does not approve of this celebration due to those two accounts recorded in the Bible, and through history we have learned their origins are also pagan.
Does that mean Jehovah’s Witnesses never give their children gifts or throw them parties? Absolutely not! If anything, I genuinely believe that no other people have more parties than we do, which also includes throwing parties for children, and giving them gifts! The Bible does not condemn having fun! And we also value children very much. We sometimes organize surprise parties for the children to show them more than we already do just how much we care about them and how proud we are of them, where we also do give them gifts. Or, sometimes parents give their children gifts on a random day with the same purpose. Aren’t good surprises when you least expect them, fun? And then there’s graduations, whether its from Pre-school, elementary, junior high/middle school, high school, college, etc etc. We like to show children that we are proud of their efforts and accomplishments. That’s not to say only children have parties thrown for them, adults too! Maybe someone just received a new privilege in the congregation, or maybe we want to say thank you in another way other than words to those who help the congregation… what better way then to throw them a party?
I hope this post has answered the question, Why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate birthdays? satisfactorily for everyone!
Sorry for the delay in the post being put up,
it seems I had pressed “Save Draft” instead of “Publish” without realizing it!