Did you ever wonder why we celebrate our birthday? Some historians report that when the pharaohs were crowned in ancient Egypt, the people believed them to be transformed into gods and it was considered their “birth-day”. So for instance, where Genesis 40:20, speaks of Pharaoh’s birthday celebration, it was probably referring to the anniversary of his coronation.
This caught on with the ancient Greeks and they added a flourish by celebrating their gods’ and goddesses’ “birth-day” with a sweet cake that they lit up with candles.
The Romans took it a step further, they began to celebrate the actual “birthdays” for friends and families, while the government created public holidays to observe the birthdays of more famous citizens.
The early Christian Church did not embrace the idea of “birth-day” celebrations since they had long been associated with pagan gods. But around the 4th century, in an effort to bring non-believers into the family of God, Christians began honoring the birth of Jesus, with the joyous celebration of Christmas. From that point on, the celebration of one’s birthday became acceptable. It was a time to thank God for the gift of life, His many blessings, and for the promise of eternal life to come.
For a long time now, I have come to view my birthday as a day to be thankful. I choose to not look for what I will receive, but to be thankful for the blessings I already have. In her book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, she says when “thanks-giving…becomes thanks-living…our lives become the very blessings we have received.” I want to make “thanks-living” a way of life. I am thankful today that I woke up to hear my soul mate, my husband John, say, “Happy Birthday, beautiful.” I smiled when I got downstairs to the kitchen and saw my favorite coffee, steaming in a mug my daughter, Meredith sent that read “Start every day like it’s your BIRTHDAY!” Next to it was a plate of amazing chocolate covered strawberries from my son, Christian, and a bouquet of my favorite flowers from John. As we watched another beautiful sunrise together, I was grateful for good health that would allow us to take our morning walk. My day had barely begun and already I had so much to be thankful for.
Since today was Tuesday, there was Bible study at noon. I was thankful that I live in a country where I am free to worship as I choose and I was able to spend several hours with the sweet fellowship of an amazing group of women and dear friends, called Sister’s in Faith. Together we sought to grow closer to Jesus through His word in the presence and guidance of the Spirit. Afterwards, I reveled in the most delicious berry crumble pie, made especially for me by our wonderful Sonia who has the most loving “birthday cake ministry” and always makes our favorites. And as another friend, Carolyn said, we loved each and every calorie! Blessings on blessings!
So yes, today is my birthday. And, I am thankful for life, family, friends, health and the greatest gift of all, the gift of faith in a loving God, who promises that if I trust in Him, if I live according to His Word, and I let His light in me shine on those around me, I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him. It has been the best birthday ever!
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever!