THE IMPORTANCE OF BIRTHDAYS
Ever wondered why we have birthday celebrations or it is too obvious? Rhetorical? Ok, true. One’s date of birth is very important for one simple fact. If there was no birth date, there would be no you. Of course, your birth date is also important as it marks your beginning, genesis or start of life on earth. It can be a pleasant fuzzy feeling of emotions when we are given gifts on our birthdays. On the other hand, if we are not “fussed” over during our birthdays we may feel neglected and unimportant.
This is the key behind birthday celebrations and astrology. This basic concept was originally used for gods, in an attempt to appeased them so they could make life better for us here on earth. If we give gifts on a birthday the god will be happy and sees us in a favourable light. The reverse is true. No gifts and the god makes our lives miserable.
Birthday celebrations were only for gods initially. It was eventually extended to kings who claimed divine rule on behalf of the gods. As such, normal ordinary people could not celebrate birth dates.
It was the Romans who made the idea of birthdays for ordinary folks popular. However, only men experienced this birthday celebration at first. Female birthdays were not celebrated until about the 12th century. Regular Roman citizens were then allowed to celebrate the birthdays of their friends and family members. The government, however, created public holidays in honor of more famous citizens.
THE ORIGINS OF BIRTHDAYS: ASTROLOGY AND RELIGION
Birthdays didn’t begin until calendars were created more than 4000 years before Christ by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Calendars were used to record, monitor and predict the influence of the Sun, moon and stars on life on earth. As ancient people began taking note of the moon’s cycles, they began paying attention to the change in seasons as well. They also noticed this pattern repeated itself, so they began marking these changes in time.
Notably, they believed that the year began at the Spring Equinox (Eq-ui equal, nox – nights), circa March 21, when there is equal number of hours of daylight (12) and hours of darkness (12). They also noticed that the hours of sunlight increased or lengthened from 12 hours on March 21 (Spring Equinox) by about 2 minutes each day, reaching the its longest at the Summer Solstice, June 21 up to 15 hours or more, as the sun moved southerly across the earth. The Sun is King, and light prevails.
However, after June 21, the hours of sunlight gradually reduced or shortened by about 2 minutes per day until it is again the same number of hours of light and darkness (12 hours at the Autumn Equinox (Eq-ui equal, nox – nights), circa September 22. The hours of light still continue to shorten until it is at its lowest point circa December 22, the Winter Solstice.
A remarkable thing happens at this period when the hours of sunlight is at its lowest. The hours of sunlight stop reducing and seem to stand still for three days, December 22 – 25. Hence the name Winter Solstice, the Latin sol (“sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”). This mean that the hours of sunlight do not shortened nor lengthened for three days. The sun has died.
Another remarkable feat then occurred at December 25. At the end of these three days, on December 25, the sun seems to “reverse “change direction from a southerly movement to a northerly movement and the hours of sunshine began to lengthen once more. This new lengthening of the sun was so gladly welcomed by ancient agriculture-based civilizations that it was worshiped and celebrated. Indeed, it was believed that the sun was born on this day. It is one of if not the first birthday celebration. Maybe the Spring Equinox and beginning of the year (March 21) Ishtar’s (Easter’s) or Venus’s birthday occurred before.
Basically, most of these birthday god celebrations involved a surrogate king and an effigy of the god of darkness being burnt (sacrificed to the sun-god) in a huge bonfire. Recitals of their creation myth is done followed by military exercises symbolizing the great battle that was going on between the sun and the forces of darkness. After the bonfire, the people exchanged gifts, held feasts, and visited friends and relatives.
Indeed, in many civilizations, the major gods such as An, Marduk, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Mithras, Saturn, Sol, and Apollo celebrated their birthdays on December 25. SEE MY BLOG ON DECEMBER 22 for more information on the death and birth of the invincible son
As mentioned, thanks to the Sumerians, this mystery and awe was explained and manipulated via astrology, which they invented. They named many of the constellations and defined the nature of numerous bodies in the solar system. They created a calendar that divided a year into 12 lunar months of 29 or 30 days. Each month began with the sighting of a new moon. Indeed, the Sumerians taught the Babylonians astrology. Ptolemy and others then learned from the Babylonians. The rest of the world learned from them.
The Greek astronomer Ptolemy rationalized that the zodiac predicts the path our lives will take in. With this knowledge he made 12 astrological signs; Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo. He called these predictions horoscopes which means “hour of birth.”
THE BIBLE, BIRTHDAYS AND ASTROLOGY
The Bible does not support or mandate the worshiping or celebration of anyone’s birth. Indeed, the three instances of birthday celebrations in the Bible had to do with unrighteousness and it was done by two evil Kings (Pharaoh – Genesis 40:20 and Herod- Matthew 14: 6. ) and by Job’s sons – Job 1:4, who were following evil strange religions. In all three occasions, the events and celebrations were ignoble from a biblical perspective.
On the note of astrology which bears birthdays (horrorscope, oops typo, horoscope) , there are many instances of the bible frowning at astrology. These include Leviticus 19:26-28; Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 18: 10 – 14 and 2 Kings 21: 6
(Does this mean that horoscope, palm reading, obeah, Christmas and Easter celebrations, etc are evil?)
HOW AND WHY DID BIRTHDAYS BECOME CHRISTIAN
Constantine, Emperor of Rome, worshipped the pantheon of Roman gods as all his predecessors had done and especially the Roman sun god, Sol. However, history has it that as he was traveling to battle his most powerful rival in Italy, Maxentius, at the Tiber River in A.D. 312, he had a vision. In that vision, he reported seeing the cross of Christ superimposed on the sun with the words, in hoc signo vinces – “in this sign you shall conquer.” After winning the battle, he became a strong champion of Christianity.
Either as a means to unify his empire, or to make converting to Christianity easier, Constantine sought to blend Christian and pagan traditions. At that time, two prominent pagan winter festivals were celebrated. The first, starting on December 17 and lasting seven days, honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. The second, starting on December 25 and lasting through January 1, commemorated the birth of Mithras, the Persian god of light. Constantine merged many of the traditions from these festivals with the Nativity story in the Bible and Christmas was born.
From its beginning, Christmas was a holiday (or holy day), gifts were exchanged, families and friends gathered to feast, and a birth was celebrated; just like in the Roman and Persian festivities.
REMEMBER THE REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON
During the Silly Season of December 22 – 25, remember the reason for the season. It is in recognition of the birthday of the mythical Sun god, Sol Invictus (Invincible Sun). The presents and gift giving as well as revelry, commerce and piety are all done in pursuit and recognition of what was seen as detestable from a biblical perspective.
The bad of birthday celebrations and the evil that results This is easily seen since, the Creator God mentioned in the bible is a jealous, bias, prejudice ONE, insisting that mankind had no other god before him as noted in Exodus 20: 1- 6.
Of course, we could justify our participation in Christmas by saying it is really Christ that is the reason for the season and we are celebrating the birthday of the son of God, Jesus Christ. The fact that the Winter Solstice December 22 – 25 was worshiped as a pagan and animistic religion as part of astrology years before Christ was born would belittle such justification since our actions should favour righteousness and not darkness.
Remember too, if a whore house by the name of Madame’s Parlour continues offering prostitution services but decided to rebrand and reposition itself as Venus Leisure Centre , that does not makes it legal or moral. A whorehouse by any name is still a whorehouse… I mean, a rose by any name is still a rose.