I don’t see any scriptures that condemn the celebration of birthdays or wedding anniversaries, nor do I see any scriptures that encourage such celebrations. In saying this, there are those who believe God does condemn celebrating birthdays since the only examples we have in the Bible refer to two pagan kings and in both cases they had someone killed on that day. The first case is the King of Egypt in Genesis 40:20-22, “Now it came to pass on the third day, which was PHARAOH’S BIRTHDAY, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again…but HE HANGED THE CHIEF BAKER.” The second case is King Herod in Matthew 14:6-8, 10:  “But when HEROD’S BIRTHDAY WAS CELEBRATED, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter’….So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.” Though these are surely bad examples of birthday celebrations, there is still no direct command in Scripture NOT TO CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS.

What I learn from these examples is that if there is a birthday celebration, it should not be done for one’s own glory or sinful pleasure but for the glory of God. We read in 1st Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In a birthday (or anniversary) celebration guests usually “eat and drink” something in honor of the person(s) being recognized, but the Lord should be glorified in it which means we shouldn’t resort to gluttony or abusing alcohol. The one or ones being celebrated should be content to have an innocent celebration where they thank the Lord for giving them another year of life on earth or another year of marriage with their spouse.

I should also mention that this is a subject that we can disagree on and we should not judge one another for their opinion on this. In Romans 14:5-6 we read, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord/ and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” I realize this passage deals especially with worshipping the Lord on a particular day, but I think we can apply this to celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. If one thinks it’s okay to celebrate this “special day” then it’s okay; if one thinks it’s not okay to celebrate this day, that’s okay too. Whatever you believe, you should be “fully convinced” before the Lord and you should not judge those who differ with you.

Before I close, I have a most important question for you. Have you had a “second birthday?” In asking this I’m really asking, “Have you been born again?” I would ask you to read and think on John 3:1-16. In verses 3 & 7 Jesus tells us “You must be born again” in order to see and enter the kingdom of God. In verses 14-16 He tells you exactly what you must do to be born again, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Have you put your trust in God’s only begotten Son, the One who was lifted up on the cross so you could have eternal life?

I was born into this world 68 years ago and I was born again 44 years ago. The older I get the less I care if my first birthday is celebrated, but I always rejoice on November 23rd of each year since I was, by the matchless grace of God, born again on that day by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Because of this I know I will one day see and enter the kingdom of God!

Perhaps it would also be good to quote part of the “Happy Birthday” song that we often sing when we celebrate someone’s birthday:

“Happy birthday to you, Only one will not do; Born again means salvation, How many have you?

Happy birthday, yes two, Only one will not do; Trust Christ as your Savior, And then you’ll have two.”  (414.5)  (DO)