The Reason Jehovah’s Witnesses Don’t Celebrate Birthdays

Jehovah’s Witnesses live by some rules that outsiders may find unusual. One of those guidelines is about not celebrating anyone’s birthday, and that festive ban occurs for several reasons. First and foremost, Jehovah’s Witnesses think that God wouldn’t approve of these celebrations, according to the religion’s official site. The Bible may not oppose birthdays outright but they are seen as pagan events. Their faith forbids them from engaging in pagan rituals, and some of the elements of a birthday celebration directly violate the Bible’s teachings.

Making a wish by blowing out candles on a birthday cake can be viewed as practicing a form of magic. And the Bible takes a dim view on magic, as illustrated by Deuteronomy, Chapter 18. In this chapter, several verses warn against using heathen practices. The text opposes the use of “divination” and the services of “an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” All of these engage in magical or supernatural practices, which “are an abomination unto the Lord.”

And the most notable life event that occurs in the Bible isn’t a birthday, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but a death — the death of Jesus. According to Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, Verse 1: “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”

Jehovah's Witnesses don't miss having birthdays

According to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official site, they don’t believe that their children are missing out on anything by not having birthdays. They choose to celebrate their children throughout the year rather than wait for a special occasion. There’s even a Bible passage that supports giving gifts spontaneously. In Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 11, the text speaks about “know how to give good gifts unto your children.” 

Celebrity members of the faith have made headlines for supporting the birthday ban. In 2018, tennis legend Serena Williams shared with the press and on social media why there was no party for her daughter Alexis Olympia’s first birthday (via People magazine). “Olympia doesn’t celebrate birthdays,” Williams said. “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.” And it’s clear from her Instagram that Williams finds many ways to have fun with her daughter all the time.

Former Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as actor Luke Evans, have expressed discomfort with the whole birthday issue, even after leaving the faith. He explained on the Table Manners podcast that he grew up in the religion until the age of 16 (via Metro). Evans had his “first birthday when I was 18 and I had so much guilt! Even though I hadn’t been a Witness for over two years, I just thought this is weird and that this feels so strange.”

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