I was 33 years old the first time someone sang Happy Birthday to me. I wasn’t allowed to celebrate it as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. If you know anybody who is part of this group, then you might know that they don’t celebrate their birthday either. Or their spouse’s birthday or their kids’ birthday. If you didn’t already know this, well now you do. Though it may feel rude to not wish them a Happy Birthday or offer them a piece of birthday cake, fear not. To Witnesses, birthdays are just another day, no different from the day before or the day after.
I remember how at every office job I’ve ever had before leaving the Witnesses, inevitably a card would secretly be passed around, usually hidden in a folder. If it was a birthday card, I could not sign it. And that delicious birthday cake in the break room, waiting to be cut up and served to the department? Nope, can’t have any. Needless to say, this made for some pretty awkward moments at work.
The same applied if it was a birthday pizza or potluck…I had to pass on it. If I saw food and didn’t hear what it was for, I had to ask, because if it was for a birthday or holiday I couldn’t have any. I couldn’t even be present at the celebration, I had to stay at my desk or take or break or anything other than participate in this Pagan event. Yeah, this made me feel both awkward and salty.
Are Birthdays Even Mentioned in the Bible?
In the JW religion, they claim that everything they do is from the Bible. That’s supposedly a main thing that separates them from other religions. Every rule, teaching, and belief will have at least one scripture to back it up. They even have scriptures that they use for this absurd teaching about birthday celebrations being wrong. In both scriptures, someone gets killed. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well here are they are:
- Genesis chapter 40 says the chief cup bearer was killed at Pharaoh’s birthday party.
- In Mark 6 is the story of John the Baptist being beheaded at Herod’s party.
Those are two of the few times that birthdays are mentioned in the Bible. As if that weren’t reason enough, they also point out that nobody that Jesus taught celebrated anyone’s birthday because it was considered Pagan. Really? These just sound like excuses to most people. But to a practicing JW, you do what you’re told. And you can’t ask questions or else.
Pass the Birthday Cake, Please!
Since I’ve been out, I have celebrated birthdays and have no intentions of stopping. This July my daughter will be a year old, and my husband and I are excited about sharing her special day with family and friends. After all, that’s really what ANY party is about, right? Having fun with those close to you. Unfortunately, Jehovah’s Witnesses are under the control of people who either misinterpret the scriptures, or they twist them to fit their agenda.
So if you ever wondered why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays, eat birthday cake, or sign birthday cards, now you know! They are simply doing what they are told, whether they fully believe it or even understand all the reasons why or not. The truly believe that they are pleasing God and following His teachings. We, of course, know they are not. But take it from me, don’t bother trying to convince them of this. Just smile, nod, and graciously eat the extra piece of birthday cake that they didn’t eat.