Yes, says the Watchtower Society. Why? Because, they inform us, only pagans celebrated birthdays per the Bible and in each case a death occurs. Let us examine the two passages they use to support their conclusions. And then we can make our own decision.
Genesis 40:20-21 "Now on the third day it turned out to be Pharaoh's birthday, and he proceeded to make a feast for all his servants and to lift up the head of the chief of the cupbearers and the head of the chief of the bakers in the midst of his servants. Accordingly he returned the chief of the cupbearers to his post of cupbearers, and he continued to give the cup into Pharaoh's hand. But the chief of the bakers he hung up, just as Joseph had given them the interpretation."
Please notice that God used the occasion of Pharaoh's birthday to spare the cupbearer, who was to later report to Pharaoh that there was indeed an interpreter of dreams in Egypt, a Hebrew by the name of Joseph, who was in prison. Pharaoh ordered Joseph's release and had him brought up to interpret--which Joseph did. Gen. 41:8-40. As a result Joseph was used to save Egypt from famine which saved the family of Jacob and all of Jacob's sons, which resulted in the birth of the nation of Israel Gen. 42 and 45 and 47. So, while one life was lost, the cupbearer's life was spared, and later because of the cupbearer, those of Joseph's family. It is unfair to link the birthday of Pharaoh with only death. As a matter of fact, Pharaoh was to later receive a blessing from Jacob. Gen. 47:7-10 So Pharaoh was not an evil man at all; he provided Joseph's family with protection and plenty of land (Goshen) and when Jacob (Israel) died he was mourned by the Egyptians for 70 days. Gen. 50:3-4. The Watchtower Society's view of Pharaoh is indeed one-sided.
The next birthday the W.T. cites is that of Herod at Matt. 14:1-13. A careful reading of the text will show that Herod did not want to kill John (Vs. 5), but that everything that happened to John was done at the instigation of Herodias (vs.3 and 8). She had planned it all along and seized this opportunity to fulfill it at a birthday celebration. See Mark 6:19, 21.
Now there is mention of birthday celebrations by Jews in the Bible also, but JWs are quiet about that. See Job 1:4 Now it is possible that Job didn't wholeheartedly concur with these banquets, but he did not prevent them. Vs. 5 And it is also true that at one of these birthday parties all his children died in a tornado (vs. 18-19).
If the strongest "proof" that birthday celebrations are wrong is the argument that death took place at each occasion, than why do Jehovah's Witnesses observe the Lord's Supper (Memorial)--the occasion of Christ's death?
Why are JW's allowed to give gifts at anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, when one moves into a new house, etc.--but somehow it's evil to do so on one's birthday?
The occasion of Jesus' birth was not an ordinary day. Even the angels celebrated his birth. See Luke 1:13-14. And the astrologers came with birthday gifts Matt. 2:1-2 It is possible, however, that they did not reach Jesus immediately after his birth because when they do find him, he is in a house. (Matt. 2:11-12). But the point is, they were intended as birthday gifts.
If the anniversary of one's birth is absolutely pagan, unimportant, something we might as well forget, why does the Bible go through such lengths to preserve exact ages (see for example Gen. 5:1-32 and Gen. 11:11-32 and Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, 47); and even certain important years of Jesus' life (see Luke 2:41-52 and Luke 3:23)?
In conclusion I quote from Rom. 14:5-6 "One man judges one day as above another; another man judges one day as all others; let each man be fully convinced in his own mind;" and Col. 2:16 "Therefore let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath..."