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why do we say bless you when sneezing

The confusion and mild hurt you feel when no one says bless you when you sneeze makes you realise that this response has become second nature. Its just polite, isnt it? Or is it? Come to think of it, does anyone actually know why we bless a persons 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 that God bless you 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 stick with us 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 with people with people believing that a sneeze causes the soul to escape the body through the nose. Apparently, saying bless you would stop the devil from claiming a sneezing persons 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 bless you was used to ensure the return of the heartbeat or to even congratulate someone on not dying during their sneeze. Some were actually grateful for the sneeze seeing it as a blessing from the person sneezing. Saying bless you was just a way to greet someone who had sneezed in your direction. Nowadays, however, though we still insist on blessing every sneezing person under the sun, theres 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, thats instead an even nastier flu, which you certainly dont want to catch. When youre on a packed tube and someone sneezes, instead of saying get away from me immediately as the more rational of us may have thought deep-down, we say bless you. 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 God bless you after someone sneezed, as this was often an indication that they had the plague and may not have long left to live.

Its thought that Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) suggested saying this in the hope that itd 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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