Monday, July 11, 2011

"Bless You"

I always wondered why we tell people “bless you” after sneezing. There are many explanations to how and why this superstition started. One explanation is that the practice or tradition of blessing a sneeze dates back to 77AD. The custom originally began as an actual blessing by Pope Gregory in 590AD. An outbreak of the bubonic plague was closing in on Rome and sneezing was thought to be an early symptom. Saying "God Bless You" was thought to be a common halt to the disease. Another explanation for the reason behind this superstition when someone sneezes are that legend has it that your heart stops every time you sneeze. Saying "God Bless You" was supposed to ensure that you would continue living and your heart would continue beating. Another legend explaining the phrase "God Bless You" was that people believed that your soul could be thrown from your body when you sneeze. It was believed that sneezing opened up your body to invasion by the devil or evil spirits. Another thought was that sneezing was the bodies' effort to force out invading evil spirits. Lastly, many people used to believe that sneezing was a sign that God would answer your prayers or that sneezing was an omen of good fortune or good luck. The phrase "God Bless You" was recognition of that luck.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I had heard of the first two reasons for the saying; halting off diseases and your heart stopping. But the last one about warding off evil spirits I never heard of! Now I've learned something new on a subject I thought I knew about. Thank you!

  2. I actually think about this a lot-- more or less, every time someone sneezes. I think the whole "bless you" thing is unnecessary. I basically only say it because it's expected. It's a pretty strange custom, when you think about it.