I am very curious about how birthday celebrations evolved. I would like to know if the early Jewish peoples celebrated birthdays.
I had been studying with Jehovah's Witnesses for a while and they claim that birthday celebrations are a pagan custom. I cannot believe this. Please e-mail me concerning this matter.
King Solomon taught in Koheles (Ecclisiastes) Chapter 7, passage 1. "better is the day of death than the day of birth". The reasons given include the fact that when one dies, he can now reap the rewards of his toilsome life, whereas at birth, no merit is earned yet. Again, Metsudas David says the reason is that at ones death, he has created a good name for himself, but at birth, he has yet to select a path of good.
In both explanations, birth itself is not a celebrative moment, or cause for celebration on a yearly basis. What one should celebrate according to King Solomon is the conclusion of one's life lived in accordance with wisdom and G-d's Torah. Only then has one accomplished a good.