Thursday, October 04, 2007


I have a question for all of you. When someone sneezes, do you say "Bless You?"

I don't know when it started for me, but I feel a strange conviction not to say it. Years ago, I came across some information somewhere about the origins of this phrase. I don't remember everything I heard back then so I did a little wiki search and found that it's origins could date back as far as the 6th century. There are several theories, from the belief that a sneeze was the onset of the bubonic plague to the belief that when you sneeze, it's your body's effort to force out an evil spirit. Saying "God bless you" was basically an attempt to halt a disease or sheild someone against those evil spirits being expelled. Doesn't that sound silly? I love to bless people, but not in ways that are socially obligatory. I have this thing about doing things that have always been done for reasons that no one seems to be able to pinpoint.

If sneezing really were the first signal that you had the bubonic plague, wouldn't it be more helpful to just pray for that person? There are people out there, you know who you are, who will say "Bless You" to anyone, anywhere. My mom will say it from the other side of the house if she hears anything that even remotely sounded like a sneeze. The other day, I was in a store and a man who was shopping right next to me sneezed. I was the only one around him and I felt this incredible pressure to bless him. I felt like he was thinking, "What kind of an insensitive jerk are you? Didn't you just hear me sneeze? Now bless me, dangit!"

If you say it, you are somehow equated with being a kind and thoughtful person. If you don't, you are self-absorbed and you secretly wish that all sneezers would just die, already. I've seen people look up in a panic and say it really fast in an attempt to be the first one to say it. Thereby making that person the nicest in the room, I guess. It's kind of like that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer refuses to "wear the ribbon." Everyone acts annoyed with him that he won't do it until the end when everyone is chasing him down the street with red ribbons.

One day in church, Erica was sitting next to me and she sneezed. I just sat there. She looked over at me and gave me a look, you know the one, and said, "I just sneezed. Aren't you going to bless me?" I said, "Oh yeah, I don't do that." I got another look and then, "Well what do you say when your kids sneeze?" I said, "Goodness!" She just rolled her eyes.

So.....if you happen to be around me and you sneeze, I might say "Goodness!" or I might say, "Good luck with that." or I might just smile. But you probably will not hear "Bless you."


High in Demand said...

Wow! That post was unexpected!

I DO feel obligated to say "Bless You." It makes me feel kind and friendly. I don't race anyone to say it. Also, if it's already said then I don't feel like I have to repeat it. Randy, almost daily sneezes 10 times in a row. I wait until he's finished before I say Bless You. If he has a sneezing fit during a movie or something like that I don't say Bless You. (That doesn't make me feel very kind.)

Uh, what else?
Oh, if my brother Chris is around and he sneezes he will make you tell him Bless You. He's very big on that. I actually think that's why I do it. It means something to him so I just ASSUME that it means something to others.

Also, if I sneeze I say, "oh, Bless Me." I guess it's kind of like "Excuse Me" if I burp or something. (not that I do that)

I guess that's all I know about sneezing.

Next time I'm around when you sneeze I'm going to cast a demon out of you. That's going to be great!

Pamelotta said...

I'm sure there's one in there!

I somehow thought you would be the type to refrain from saying it, or at least, not really care one way or the other. Not that you're not one of the nicest people I know, it's just that I guess I've never heard you say it.

JesusFreak said...

What's next? When we say Merry Christmas, you're gonna say you don't do that earlier.

That's it. I'm boycotting your sneezes.

p.s. this whole comment is a joke.

ericaprosser said...

::::: rolling eyes again ::::::

Ashlee said...

I usually say it, after all..why not I guess? Besides at this point, I'll take anything that is a conversation starter. I don't race though, and I occasionally say other things like "Goodness!" I've never thought about it a whole lot.

Aaron & Rachel said...

I usually say it. . I guess out of habit. I don't race to say it, though. Today in the doctor's office, the lady next to me sneezed and I didn't say "Bless you" but neither did the other 2 ladies in there. It just felt awkward!

Cherryberry said...

I usually do say it.

I had not thought alot about it until this guy started working at my old job.

His beliefs were that it stemmed from an old wives tale that if you did not bless someone when they sneezed that the soul would leave their body prematurely, so they did not say it.

They alikened it to witchcraft and spell casting.

And now you bring it up.

Definately something to consider,
but I will probably continue to say it, maybe just not as often.