I’ve always heard that birthday cakes and blowing out candles is a non-Jewish thing to do on your birthday. Birthdays in general seem to be celebrated less in religious families, or so it seems.
As you know, Judaism is all about giving to the other and inward simcha. Even on one of the most important days of a woman’s life, on her wedding day, it is she who has the extra power to give blessings out, not the other way around, expecting people to bless her. Birthdays are similar in that it’s not about being spoilt with a big party and lots of presents, it’s about giving more of yourself.
You’re Hebrew birthday has extra spiritual energy in it, a day of good mazal. Yet, birthdays in the Chumash are only mentioned in relation to Pharoh. Why? Since he considered himself a god, he celebrated himself as the source of his existence. The correct way to celebrate is to recognise that Hashem is the Source of existence and on your birthday you, an extention and reflection of that Source, was brought to this world.
Tap into that positive energy through some of the minchagim below, put together from a few Jewish websites like chabad.org, Aish.com and others.
~ Giving charity. This should be more than your usual amount and its a reminder to yourself that all the possessions you have aren’t really yours, they’re to be shared (or given as it may be).
~ Speak to Hashem, aka pray. He really should be thanked for the year that was and asked to continue giving you the support you need in the coming year. Really, He’s the only one who can make a change.
~ I dont understand a lot about Tehillim, the Psalms, but aparantly they have a lot of power. Try to say as many Psalms as possible. Many people study the Psalm which corresponds to your new year. This is your age plus one, e.g. Psalm 25 if this is your 24th birthday.
~ Teshuva. What else would a baal teshuva do!? But really, teshuva is important because your birthday is considered a personal Rosh Hashanah. It gives us the opportunity to look at our past year and look at who we truly are on the inside and make solid conclusions on how we will bridge the two in the next year so that our actions are representative of our beautiful neshamos. Think about what you will add to or change in your life to be a light onto yourself, your family, your community and the world.
~ Learn some extra Torah, maybe about your parsha if you like. At the end of the day, it’s the blueprint of humanity. Might give you extra emuna and strength for the coming year.
~ Eat a new fruit which you haven’t tasted during this season and recite the Shehecheyanu blessing.
~ Men over barmitzvah age should get an aliyah in the synagogue on the Shabbos before.
Happy birthday and may you live with simcha to 120!