Back in 1969, Anton Lavey wrote The Satanic Bible. On page 96 (in the 1976 version) it mentions birthdays:
The highest of all holidays in the Satanic religion is the date of one’s own birth. This is in direct contradiction to the holy of holy days of other religions, which deify a particular god who has been created in an anthropomorphic form of their own image, thereby showing that the ego is not really buried.
The Satanist feels: “Why not really be honest and if you are going to create a god in your image, why not create that god as yourself.” Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year. After all, aren’t you happier about the fact that you were born than you are about the birth of someone you have never even met? Or for that matter, aside from religious holidays, why pay higher tribute to the birthday of a president or to a date in history than we do to the day we were brought into this greatest of all worlds?
Despite the fact that some of us may not have been wanted, or at least were not particularly planned, we’re glad, even if no one else is, that we’re here! You should give yourself a pat on the back, buy yourself whatever you want, treat yourself like the king (or god) that you are, and generally celebrate your birthday with as much pomp and ceremony as possible.
After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht and Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve).
(Lavey A, Gilmore P. The Satanic Bible. Avon, September 1, 1976, p. 96–note it is on page 53 of an online version I found also).
Early Origins of Birthdays
So what is the origin of birthdays? Where did the idea of birthdays celebrations come from?
“Originally the idea [of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one’s bed on the birthday eve. Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Good wishes bring good fortune, but the reverse is also true, so one should avoid enemies on one’s birthday and be surrounded only by well-wishers. ‘Happy birthday’ and ‘Many happy returns of the day’ are the traditional greetings” (The Lore of Birthdays, Linton, p. 20)…
The giving of birthday gifts is a custom associated with the offering of sacrifices to pagan gods on their birthdays. Certainly, the custom was linked with the same superstitions that formed the background for birthday greetings. “The exchange of presents… is associated with the importance of ingratiating good and evil fairies… on their or our birthdays” (ibid.).
The traditional birthday cake and candles also have their origin in ancient pagan idol worship. The ancients believed that the fire of candles had magical properties. They offered prayers and made wishes to be carried to the gods on the flames of the candles. Thus we still have the widely practiced birthday custom of making a wish, then blowing out the candles. The Greeks celebrated the birthday of their moon goddess, Artemis, with cakes adorned with lighted candles…
“The Egyptians… discovered to which of the gods each month and day is sacred; and found out from the day of a man’s birth, what he will meet within the course of his life, and how he will end his days, and what sort of man he will be” (Herodotus, Persian Wars, Book II, ch. 82)
Since it was believed that the positions of the stars at the time of birth influenced a child’s future, astrological horoscopes came into being, purporting to foretell the future, based on the time of birth. “Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes” (The Lore of Birthdays, p. 53). Rawlinson’s translation of Herodotus includes the following footnote: “Horoscopes were of very early use in Egypt… and Cicero speaks of the Egyptians and Chaldees predicting… a man’s destiny at his birth”…
When we examine the principles of God’s law closely, as they relate to birthday celebrations, we can understand why neither Christ, nor His Apostles, nor their true followers, observed their birthdays. As noted earlier, the practice has its origin in idolatry and the worship of the sun, moon and stars…Some may view birthday customs as purely secular, lacking any religious significance. Yet we need to be aware of the broader perspective of their origins, and the religious significance they have had—and still have—for vast multitudes of people. (Reynolds, Rod. Should Christians Celebrate Birthdays? LCN, May-June 2002. pp.16-18).
Furthermore, the book The Lore of Birthdays (New York, 1952) by Ralph and Adelin Linton, on pages 8, 18-20 had this to say:
The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born. The Romans also subscribed to this idea. . . . This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint. . . . The custom of lighted candles on the cakes started with the Greeks. . . . Honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers were placed on the temple altars of [Artemis]. . . . Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes. . . . Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune…
Thus it appears that birthdays had their origin in mythology and magic, with horoscopes also probably playing a role. Astrology is a really big proponent of birthdays.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can receive Him into your heart, and He can deliver you from darkness and sin and have your name written in His Book of Life.
If you are sincere, you can say this simple prayer to the Father (it doesn’t have to be word for word):
“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. Please forgive me of all of my sins, just as I forgive others. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross, I believe in my heart Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in the Lord and GOD Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”
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Are Birthday Celebrations Christian? …
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Birthdays in the Bible
Birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible on three separate occasions and, in each case, something terrible occurred. These three accounts bear brief examination.
The first account is in Genesis. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, celebrated his birthday by executing his chief baker (Gen. 40:1-23). God gave Joseph special understanding of a dream by Pharaoh’s butler and baker, that the baker would lose his life three days after Joseph interpreted the dream. Joseph understood that Pharaoh would use this occasion—his own birthday party—to put his baker to death. As the dream had foretold, the baker was hung at the party.
In the second account, the New Testament figure Herod the tetrarch reluctantly ordered the beheading of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:3-11). Notice verse six: “But when Herod’s birthday was kept…” During the dancing and merry-making at his birthday party, Herod got carried away and eventually made a promise that he did not want to keep. As a result, a great servant of God lost his life.
The final account is found in the book of Job. The Bible says that Job’s seven sons “went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them” (Job 1:4). These parties were obviously not centered around any kind of celebration related to God, or Job would not have worried that his children may have sinned during these celebration feasts. He was not exactly sure what was going on in their minds, but the very celebration of their birthdays triggered great concern in him (1:5). Apparently, during the birthday party of Job’s oldest son, God allowed Satan to kill all 10 of Job’s children through what appears to be a tornado (vs. 6-13, 18-19).
Further proof that these birthday celebrations displeased God is found in Job 3. Take time to read the entire chapter carefully. Job spends much time cursing every aspect of the day of his birth. The loss of all of his children, due to a birthday celebration, stunned and sobered him. His words make plain that there is nothing good about the day of a man’s birth. He openly cursed the day he was born. This will be shown to have greater meaning later in this article.
Some who are familiar with these accounts attempt to explain them away by saying that there is no statement contained within them that directly prohibits birthday celebrations. They also ignore Job’s comments described in the previous paragraph. It is true that the above scriptures do not contain a direct condemnation of birthdays starting with the phrase “Thou shalt not…” or something similar. But consider for a moment the central lesson of each of these accounts. They represent the only three birthday parties described in the entire Bible. Absolute disaster occurred on each occasion! If God felt birthday celebrations were something positive and good, why wouldn’t He have recorded one other account where something either good or positive happened? Yet, there is no such account.
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Hey, thanks for the insightful article. It gave me more understanding of things I never knew! I do wonder, do you personally approve of celebrating birthdays as a way to give thanks to God since He brought us into being (Ps. 139:13-14)? Or celebrating birthdays for your family and friends? Abraham gave a feast of celebration for Isaac while he was weaned (Gen. 21:8), and though it was not on Isaac’s birthday, it seems to have similar significance, as the weaned day is a milestone of the child’s growth. So would you do that for others (i.e. your child if you have any) or yourself? And suppose you do, in what way will you possibly celebrate it?
Sure, I see nothing wrong with celebrating birthdays as a way to give thanks to God.
As for celebrating birthdays with family/friends, I think it’s up to the individual’s conscience (Rom. 14:5). Me personally, I try to avoid celebrating birthdays but there may be an occasion I would join (perhaps it’s an opportunity to share the Gospel).
I don’t know if I would celebrate that milestone for my child. That is something not part of my culture. But who knows.
I see, thanks for the detailed reply. Perhaps you can add some guidelines or suggestions on various situations one may encounter when dealing with birthday celebrations, since it’s so popular in our culture and, if rightly approached, can be a good way for sharing the Gospel. May God bless you.