For example, Reasoning from the Scriptures (1989) relies on books published in 1848, 1874, and 1952.4 Because previously lost early Christian writings are discovered every two decades or so, we today know far more about the early faith than previous modern generations. Originally the spring festival in honor of the Teutonic goddess of light and spring known in Anglo-Saxon as Eastre. Birthdays: Enjoying a feast or a party and generous giving to loved ones are certainly not wrong. Myth: You divide families by teaching people not to celebrate Christmas. Indeed, Reasoning from the Scriptures concedes that “wholesome gatherings of family and friends at other times to eat, drink, and rejoice are not objectionable.”8 In other words, the activities accompanying the celebrations are not harmful in themselves, but only on a particular day, just like commemorating Christ’s coming into the world is laudable and encouraged on any day except December 25. They provide no specific references except the Bible, not even names of authors or titles, or any indication that better evidence lies behind them. J.W. We take no part in Christmas parties, plays, singing, exchanging of gifts, or in any other such activity that is associated with Christmas. Without mentioning Origen, Jehovah’s Witnesses heavily rely on these two incidents. The site gives the following as reasons for the refusal of Jehovahâs Witnesses to join other Christians in 25 December celebration of birthday of Jesus Christ. Hell does not exist. The day of Christâs birth cannot be ascertained from the N[ew] T[estament], or, indeed, from any other source. Additionally, birthday celebrations tend to give excessive importance to an individual, no doubt one reason why early Christians shunned them. Fact: We care deeply about families, and we use the Bible to help build stronger families. Although the Bible does not explicitly forbid celebrating birthdays, it does help us to reason on key features of these events and understand Godâs view of them. Today is my brothers birthday but I did not go because I want to be a Jehovah Witness and I feel bad because my family wanted me to go, now please people don't answer saying Jehovah witnesses are just a cult and they aren't the truth because I know better. No source or direction is identified that the reader can consult for questions or explanations. The present article accordingly examines the entire extant body of Christian literature before the persecution, mass apostasy, and epidemic of AD 249–251. Seriously, We should not say âhappy birthdayâ in any way. Witnesses wrongly assume that celebrating birthdays is evil because the only two explicit biblical mentions of birthday celebrations are those in honor of a pagan, Pharaoh (Gn 40:20-22), and a wicked man, Herod Antipas (Mk 6:21; cf. Celebrating a personâs birthday is a form of worship that is rendered to them when we celebrate their birthday or the day of their birth. Myth: The reason why Jehovahâs Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas is that they do not believe in Jesus. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it is a sin to celebrate birthdays, which they dismiss as heathen superstition or rooted in “ancient false religion.” The prohibition can be found in the Watchtower Society’s Reasoning from the Scriptures,1 What Does God Require of Us?2 and What Does the Bible Really Teach?3. The festival honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, the god of nature.âââThe World Book Encyclopedia (1973), VolumeÂ 20, pageÂ 204. Or what sharing does light have with darkness? The â¦ âTherefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,â says Jehovah.âââ2Â Corinthians 6:14-17. David W. T. Brattston, J.D., is a retired lawyer residing in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. To avoid error, there is no substitute for examining the original documents from the early centuries, and let the ancients speak for themselves. Interestingly, we read: âAfter the Reformation, Protestants rejected this feast along with other important ones such as Christmas and Easter. This is in keeping with Jesusâ words regarding his followers: âThey are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.âââJohn 17:16. âChristmas was outlawed in England and in parts of the English colonies in Americaâ, For conscientious reasons, Jehovahâs Witnesses do not take part in holiday activities, Early Christians did not celebrate their birthdays, âThis is not mere childâs play, but the vestige of a fertility rite, the eggs and the rabbit both symbolizing fertilityâ. You can't save your friends with a blood transfusion. Ethical objections in early church history to celebrating one’s birthday are found in only one of these hundred-odd Christian authors. According to Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 10.22, Christians should not observe birthdays because the only individuals in Scripture who did so also put people to death on that day: the Pharaoh of Joseph executed his chief baker (Gen. 40:20–22), and King Herod had John the Baptist killed because of Herod’s rash oath to reward the dancer who provided entertainment at the festivities (Matt. May Day: âMay Day festivals probably stem from the rites practiced in honor of a Roman goddess, Maia, who was worshiped as the source of human and natural fertility. The same Origen who prohibited observing the anniversaries of one’s birth also discountenanced the practice, recent in his time, of designating and maintaining separate buildings exclusively for Christian public worship, be they called “churches” “meeting houses,” or “kingdom halls.”7 Jehovah’s Witnesses should examine the entire scope of Christian antiquity before damning the innocent and community-building gatherings of Christians. To venerate means to worship to put on high or exalt an object or human for the sole purpose of giving them recognition rather than the Creator. Witnesses raise the further argument from ecclesiastical history, but this in turn can be traced to nobody but Origen, himself singular in the minority, and JW literature diverges from Origen on such matters as weanings, child baptism, and Christian houses of worship. Even he stands alone in his opposition, which would indicate that other Christians did not consider birthdays to be the issue or sin that Witnesses do. For this reason, said Origen, the church baptizes infants—something Witnesses roundly oppose. Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays Most witnesses would sincerely appreciate the thought behind your card and would not be offended by this in any way. The Witnesses therefore are inconsistent in their approach both to Scripture and church history, and have no good grounds for their rejection of birthday celebrations. We try to follow the principle stated by the Christian apostle Paul: âWhat fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Birthday celebrations are mentioned only a few times in Scripture, and nowhere are they condemned. It is commonly known that Christmas was not originally a celebration of Christâs birth. It is not an official practice of Jehovah's Witnesses; it is at best a personal choice. Origen began Commentary on Matthew 10.22 with, “Some one of those before us has observed what is written in Genesis about the birthday of Pharaoh, and has told that the worthless man who loves things connected with birth keeps birthday festivals; and we, taking this suggestion from him, find in no Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man.”5 Origen’s predecessor who wrote about Pharaoh’s birthday party was not a Christian, but a member of what Jehovah’s Witnesses like to condemn as “false religions.” The teaching originated in Philo the Jew’s On Drunkenness.6 Even here, the objection is not to birthday parties per se but to drunkenness, citing Pharoah as an example. To be consistent exegetes of Scripture, Witnesses ought to hold parties for weanings on the same authority that they shun birthdays. .Â .Â . It is this that makes them objectionable to Jehovahâs Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses commemorate Christ's death as a ransom or "propitiatory sacrifice" by observing the Lord's Evening Meal, or Memorial. Another shortcoming, at least for the moral permissibility of birthday parties, is that it provides only the names of a non-Witness book or author, for example, The World Book Encyclopedia in What Does the Bible Really Teach? Origen mentioned the topic in these paragraphs only secondarily to his observation that, for his infant son Isaac, Abraham celebrated not the day of birth or anniversary thereof but the day he was weaned (Gen. 21:8). A major problem with Watchtower literature I found on its website is that no personal author is ever identified, which disables the reader from checking his or her qualifications or standing in the scholarly community. The Saturnalia in Rome provided the model for most of the merry customs of the Christmas time.âââEncyclopÃ¦dia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh, 1911), edited by James Hastings, VolumeÂ III, pagesÂ 608, 609. Jehovahâs Witnesses take the same position of total nonparticipation in other religious or semireligious holidays that occur during the school year. It’s the support of friends like you that enables CRI to to post new articles on subjects of interest and continue our weekly podcast. â¦ Perhaps one of Jehovahâs Witnesses might ask, do you suddenly feel a year older? Although the Bible does not explicitly forbid celebrating birthdays, it does help us to reason on key features of these events and understand Godâs view of them. Homilies on Leviticus 8.3.2 presents several lines of text on the unchristian nature of celebrating one’s own birthday or that of one’s child. Jehovahâs Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays due to viewing it as elevating an individual. These are just a sampling of holidays that are commonly observed, and in which schoolchildren often are expected to participate by sharing in certain activities. Ask a Witness why they cannot celebrate a birthday and the first reason given will most likely go something like this: This is based on comments such as the following: It is correct that two birthday parties are specifically mentioned in the Bible, neither was for worshippers of Jehovah, and someone was killed at both. Formal mother worship, with ceremonies to Cybele, or Rhea, the Great Mother of the Gods, were performed on the Ides of March throughout Asia Minor.âââEncyclopÃ¦dia Britannica (1959), VolumeÂ 15, pageÂ 849. But the way the Christmas holiday developed shows that there is more to it than that. I don't want to exclude this co-worker from receiving a card, yet i don't want to do the wrong thing either. (I say âshouldâ because my Mom would say it as a joke. It was even customary to have Christmas dinner at the Brooklyn headquarters. (Genesis 40:18-22; Mark 6:21-28) So it is not surprising to see these historical references to the attitude of early Christians toward birthday celebrations: âThe notion of a birthday festival was far from the ideas of the Christians of this period in general.âââThe History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the Three First Centuries (New York, 1848), by Augustus Neander (translated by Henry John Rose), pageÂ 190. âOf all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday.