The observance of birthdays may be traced to a very ancient date; and the birthday of the first-born son seems in particular to have been celebrated with a degree of festivity proportioned to the joy which the event of his actual birth occasioned ( Job 1:4; Job 1:13; Job 1:18). The birthdays of the Egyptian kings were celebrated with great pomp as early as the time of Joseph ( Genesis 40:20). These days were in Egypt looked upon as holy; no business was done upon them, and all parties indulged in festivities suitable to the occasion. Every Egyptian attached much importance to the day, and even to the hour of his birth; and it is probable that, as in Persia, each individual kept his birthday with great rejoicings, welcoming his friends with all the amusements of society, and a more than usual profusion of delicacies of the table. In the Bible there is no instance of birthday celebrations among the Jews themselves. The example of Herod the tetrarch ( Matthew 14:6), the celebration of whose birthday cost John the Baptist his life, can scarcely be regarded as such, the family to which he belonged being notorious for its adoption of heathen customs. In fact, the later Jews at least regarded birthday celebrations as parts of idolatrous worship; and this probably on account of the idolatrous rites with which they were observed in honor of those who were regarded as the patron gods of the day on which the party was born.