Why Do We Say "God bless you" after a sneeze?


| 2 Comments

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Ahhhh-chooo! "Bless you". The response "bless you", or "God bless you" comes naturally after someone sneezes. But, no one says anything to you after you burp, or blow your nose, or even cough. So why is that when you sneeze theirs a special response? Yes, one reason we say it is because our parents/guardians taught us to when we were little, but where did this action of responding to a sneeze originate from? After doing some research on it I found a few different answers.

One theory is that it originated sometime during the early 20th century by German-speaking immigrants that used the term "gesundhei" which means health, to wish the person, that is typically ill, well. But, others believe that when you sneeze it causes the sould to escape and that saying "God bless you" will stop the devil from claiming the person's free soul.

I'm sure that some of you have heard, maybe even believed for a spell, that the heart momenterialy stops during a sneeze, well it does not. Dr. Richard Conti, past president of the American College of Cardiology, speculates that the belief that the heart actually comes to a stop during a sneeze could result from the sensation of having the heart "skip a beat" immediately after a sneeze.

I found an interesting article regarding sneezes. It was about an unnamed student that, while in the classroom, said "God bless you" whenever another classmate sneezed and was reduced a letter grade in that class. The teacher said when interviewed that "blessing someone is out of date in a modern classroom" which is why he reduced the letter grade. The health teacher, Steve Cuckovich,continued by saying that "The blessing doesn't really make sense anymore... When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, 'God bless you,' for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, what you're doing really doesn't make sense."

What's your view on it?

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2 Comments

I have always wondered this question, as to why we say "God Bless You" or "Bless You" without any hesitation! I thought this was such a good blog idea because it is such a small, yet common action of our daily life. I found a similar article online that also helps explain the reasoning behind it all: Etymology of Bless You

This is a really interesting concept Alexis, I wonder the same thing. The interesting part about it is even though it is dated, it can be thought of as rude if one does not bless another person. You bring up a great point! It is almost just tradition and thats why it is repeated over generations.

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