A birthday is the anniversary of the date of a person's birth. Some religions interpret their scriptures to discourage celebrating birthdays.
If God wanted us to celebrate birthdays, he would have made the tropical year exactly 365 days long. As it is, people have to insert days and months to get the calendar to line up with the seasons. If one was born on such an inserted day, when is one's birthday?
Birthdays in Christianity
Jesus of Nazareth was born in spring or fall while shepherds were outside at night, not on the day in December that has since become the day of commercialized Christmas.
A few Christian sects, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, don't celebrate anyone's birthday because the early Christians didn't celebrate birthdays. Not only were birthdays a "pagan" custom (that is, one foreign to the Jews), but both mentions of birthdays in the Bible also mention someone being put to death. Jews were more likely to celebrate a death anniversary. (bible:Ecclesiastes 7:1) The Witnesses and some other Christian denominations continue the annual memorial of Christ's death on the eve of Nisan 14.
A birthday is like an anus in that everyone has one, but not everybody needs to flaunt it. A lot of parents throw lavish parties when their kids' ages reach certain milestones. These might be 10 (double digits!), 15 (quinceañera parties in Spanish-speaking countries), 16 ("sweet 16" parties, the anglophone counterpart to quinceañera parties), or 21 (often involving getting "drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery" as Paul warned in Ephesians 5:18). These parties cost a lot of money that the parents may not really be able to spare, and such conspicuous consumption amounts to boasting that one's parents are rich. In fact, birthday parties for rich kids have become ludicrous, topping $10,000 for something the child doesn't even want anymore. George Washington starved his army for a birthday party before becoming the first President of the United States. The Bible warns against such boasting.
- TO DO: List films that depict birthday parties going out of control
Jehovah's Witnesses aren't the only people of Abrahamic faith not to celebrate birthdays; it appears Muslims don't either. Some people who don't regularly celebrate birthdays even forget their birthdays outside the context of identification.
"Do not withhold good from those who need it, when you have the ability to help."--Proverbs 3:27, NET.
Due to child labor laws in the United States and elsewhere, children often have no way to earn money to buy clothes, educational toys, or other necessities. Parents often refuse to buy these for a child until the child's birthday. The practice of holding back gifts until a birthday is so ingrained into mainstream American culture that when a child learns about cultures without birthday celebrations, the first thing a child wonders is "So without birthdays, how will I get my toys?" People in cultures without birthday celebrations are more likely to give evenly throughout the year. And in fact, giving children candy and cake in moderation throughout the year, rather than holding back the cake for birthdays and the candy for semiannual binges on Easter and Halloween, could even make kids healthier.
People should give because they want to, not because they have to. The concepts of an "obligatory gift", "obligatory card", and "obligatory phone call" feel more like a tax than a gift, and the stress associated with affording and selecting gifts ruins birthdays and Christmas just as it ruins Father's Day, and this sense of obligation is a good way to remind people in the working class how poor they are.
For years, Warner/Chappell Music claimed copyright in the lyrics of the song most commonly sung at birthday parties in the United States. Until September 2015, when Judge George H. King ruled this copyright invalid, producers of films not willing to pay Warner's high royalty had to either substitute other songs (commonly "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" for a male's birthday, or "Bück dich" for the mondegreen if Rammstein's label doesn't make you bend over as much) or put the film in a culture without birthday celebrations.
One school district has even banned standardized reading comprehension tests from mentioning birthdays in the stories given to students. Perhaps the reasoning is that the mention of birthdays might call to mind what "other people do": profligate spending, beheadings without due process, and holding back giving, and those associations might distract the test taker from the reading comprehension issue being tested. But Cracked columnist Ian Fortey has called this ban part of the "pussification" of the public school system.
- Pharaoh's baker in Genesis 40:16-23; John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29
- Mark Hill, Jacopo della Quercia. "5 'Luxury' Toys for the Children of Wealthy Douchebags". Cracked, 2012-09-29. Accessed 2012-10-15.
- Anonymous, Evan V. Symon. "Bribing Kids: 5 Realities Of Planning Rich Kid Birthdays". Cracked, 2015-07-16. Accessed 2015-07-16.
- Zachary Frey. "6 Historical Heroes Who Did Awful Things Nobody Talks About". Cracked, 2015-07-21. Accessed 2015-07-21.
- Each Birthday Brings Darker Days. Not Always Right, 2010-02. Accessed 2011-10.
- Cezary Jan Strusiewicz. "5 Hallmarks of Bad Parenting That Are Actually Good for Kids". Cracked, 2012-04-12. Accessed 2012-04-12.
- John Cheese. "5 Ways People With the Best Intentions Ruin Father's Day". Cracked, 2012-06-14. Accessed 2012-06-14.
- John Cheese. "6 Great Ways to Remind Yourself That You're Poor". Cracked, 2012-06-29. Accessed 2012-06-29.
- Christine Mai-Duc. "All the 'Happy Birthday' song copyright claims are invalid, federal judge rules". Los Angeles Times, 2015-09-22. Accessed 2015-09-23.
- Soulskill. NYC Bans Mention of Dinosaurs, Dancing, Birthdays On Student Tests. Slashdot. 2012-03-28. Accessed on 2012-05-15.
- [Ian Fortey. "The 5 Biggest Pussifications of Schools". 2012-06-16. Accessed 2012-06-21.