why do we say bless you when sneezing
The confusion and mild hurt you feel when no one says âbless youâ when you sneeze makes you realise that this response has become second nature. Itâs just polite, isnât it? Or is it? Come to think of it, does anyone actually know why we bless a personâs sneeze? Did you know? Disney once planned a prequel to Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
In all honesty: No. Nobody has been able to determine exactly why we bless a sneeze, or where the blessing first originated from. But, there are lots of theories. One common belief is thatÂ âGod bless youâ was a phrase uttered by Pope Gregory the Great during a bubonic plague epidemic that took place in the sixth century.
As sneezing was one of the symptoms of the plague, it was a way to wish good health on someone. Another theory is that it â stick with us â blessing someone would protect them from sneezing their soul out through their nose. Really. In the days before a sneeze was known to be a reflex action, a symptom of a cold or an allergic reaction, the phrase was used simply because of superstition â with peopleÂ with people believing that a sneeze causes the soul to escape the body through the nose. Apparently, saying âbless youâ would stop the devil from claiming a sneezing personâs soul. Some believed the opposite though, believing that evil spirits use a sneeze as a way to enter the body.
For others, the soul had nothing to do with a sneeze. Another old belief was that the heart momentarily stopped during a sneeze, and âbless youâ was used to ensure the return of the heartbeat â or to even congratulate someone on not dying during their sneeze. Some were actually grateful for the sneeze â seeing it as a blessing from the person sneezing. Saying âbless youâ was just a way to greet someone who had sneezed in your direction. Nowadays, however, though weÂ still insist on blessing every sneezing person under the sun, thereâs no real reason behind it. It simply feels mandatory.
Well, we are British, after all. MORE: MORE: Everyone seems to have come down with a nasty cold in the last few weeks. For some, thatâs instead an even nastier flu, which you certainly donât want to catch. When youâre on a packed tube and someone sneezes, instead of saying âget away from me immediatelyâ as the more rational of us may have thought deep-down, we say âbless youâ. But why are we blessing people who sneeze and where does this custom come from? One theory on why people do this dates back to times when Bubonic Plague was rife. People would say âGod bless youâ after someone sneezed, as this was often an indication that they had the plague and may not have long left to live.
Itâs thought that Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) suggested saying this in the hope that itâd protect them from death. An earlier theory comes from the beliefs that ancient cultures held relating to sneezing and spirits. Some thought that sneezing was expelling the holy spirit from their body, and the only way to remedy this was to bless the person who sneezed so God would forgive them. Others believed that it was actually evil spirits leaving the body, which had the potential to endanger others once they were out in the open. The blessing was to protect those around the sneezers. MORE: MORE: MORE:
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