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  1. #1
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    OT - "Bless you" after sneeze

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    Hi all...
    I hope you all can help settle a slight disagreement b/t DH and me.
    Had a little chat about work today during our power outage thanks to leading bands of TS Ernesto. (It kept me off line and off TE Forums, bummer)
    My boss was in a rather bizarre, chatty mood today...I don't think he had enough meetings to keep him busy. But at one point, I sneezed, and he came over and said "Bless you." Then said, "Do you know why folks say "bless you" after a sneeze? Because your soul leaves your body and they say that so it will come back. Well...that's the story, anyway."
    I had always heard that your heart stops when you sneeze and folks say "Bless you" so that the soul DOESN"T leave the body during that time.
    DH said, no way....it's a leftover from the days of the Black Death, the Plague. When folks sneezed, it was usually the start of Plague, and folks said "Bless you" so you wouldn't get it.
    So, what IS the story??? Why do folks say "bless you" after a sneeze?
    Thanks! And happy riding....
    Regina

  2. #2
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    I always heard the Black Plague thing.

    "Ring around the Rosies" is from the Plague, too. And "ashes ashes we all fall down" refers to "atchoo" and the sneezing.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnottedYet
    I always heard the Black Plague thing.

    "Ring around the Rosies" is from the Plague, too. And "ashes ashes we all fall down" refers to "atchoo" and the sneezing.

    Hmmmm....one vote for the Plague. I had heard about the "Ring around the Rosies" rhyme and the Plague....("Pocket full of posies" to hide the smell of death) but honestly, never sneezing. Interesting....

  4. #4
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    I learned the same as KnottedYet.

    Edited: I just asked DH what he knew about it-he also learned Plague.
    Jennifer

    “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
    -Mahatma Gandhi

    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."
    -Aristotle

  5. #5
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    I'd always heard that it was because the devil could jump into you when you sneezed, so the 'bless you' was to keep the devil from jumping in.

  6. #6
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    In the UK, the "Ring Around a Rosie" rhyme is "Atishoo, atishoo" not "ashes ashes". When I first moved to the US, I thought it was a cute mispronunciation from my son, but then realized he was saying ashes becuase that's what he'd been taught at nursery school.

  7. #7
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    From the Freak Flag archive:

    In ancient times, it was customary to congratulate someone who just
    sneezed, because sneezing was viewed as the body's way to expel evil
    spirits. This view may have been based on the observation that
    people sneeze more often when they are ill, and illness was thought
    to be caused by evil spirits.

    In the fourteenth century, the black plague came to Europe
    accompanied by violent sneezing among those afflicted. The Pope
    passed a law that anyone who sneezed was to be blessed by those
    nearby, with the hope that death might be averted. Today, most
    people still say "Bless you!" when someone sneezes.

    The Germans were a bit less religious about their sneezing customs.
    To this day, they say "gesundheit" [geh-ZUND-hyt] after someone
    sneezes, which simply means "good health."

  8. #8
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    I grew up saying gesundheit- I wonder if that's because MN has such a high populaiton of Germans, and my mom's dad was German.

    Did you ever see that Seinfeld episode where they say "You're _so_ good looking!" when someone sneezes? That always flits through my head now, but I have never said it...
    ***********
    "...I'm like the cycling version of the guy in Flowers for Algernon." Mike Magnuson

  9. #9
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    Wow.
    Thanks, Snapdragen!

  10. #10
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    From a couple of message boards

    Excerpts from: http://www.gatago.com/alt/atheism/22540864.html

    The main problem with "Bless you" is that if you sneeze again, you feel
    really guilty. They either have to re-bless you or aknowledge that the
    original blessing didn't work. The best you can tell them is to not
    worry about it, it wasn't an attack from Satan, it was just a sneeze.

    I use gesundheit, which is German for health. Either that or "Get away
    from me, you filthy, lurgy infected swine. Who do you thik you are,
    Typhoid friggin' Mary?" It always goes down well at parties. ;-)

    "Bless" means to bleed. "God bless you" therefore
    translates to "god bleed on you." The phrase isn't offensive,
    it's bizarre.

    I always say "you are so good looking!"
    Besides, who the hell is arrogant enough to think they have the power to bless me?


    Another message board: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...2232311AAUgFnD

    I like to say damn you.. but people frown upon that.

    Actually, eons ago, it was believed that when a person sneezed, that they could actually pass their spirit through their nose. So it became a way to bless the soul of the person who sneezed. ancient greece or egyptian roots

    Gesundheit meant "health", but not for the one who sneezed, rather the one sneezed on. Try that one. People will still think you're trying to be polite.


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  11. #11
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    What? Sneezing Protocol???


    http://www.chefelf.com/forums/index....ter&f=8&t=5559


    I'm sick of sneezing. Don't get me wrong, I love to let out a nice sneeze here and there if necessary, I just can't stand the pressure placed upon us all by the whole act. Let's quickly get this over with by going through some of the pressures that have been building up in me all summer.

    The Aborted Sneeze

    The other day I was at the barber shop (the one at the bus station, I love the stylist there) when, all of a sudden, I felt a sneeze coming on. I quickly pulled away from the barber's sharp scissors for a second, startling the hell out of him, before the sneeze was aborted. Then, given the fact that we speak two different languages (he speaks some sort of primitive bus station dialect that I can't quite pick out) I had to raise my finger to my nose like some sort of cartoon character.

    The Sneeze Jokesters

    Then there are those jerks you meet (usually they are only acquaintances at best, more often just strangers) who will 'bless' you after one sneeze, then again after a second and then after the third say, "Okay, no more for you!" The 'joke' is not always the same but the 'laughs' are. Usually since this person is a stranger you feel obliged to at least give them a courtesy chuckle.

    The Sneeze Thespians

    The worst is the people who milk their sneezes for all they're worth with a grand, "AHHH... AHHHH... AHHHHHHH... CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" These people, again usually strangers in public, are the worst kind of people. If you are at home among family and friends then do what you must. The people in public (most usually, in my case, on the subway) who feel the need to make a giant presentation about a simple sneeze are just annoying. They flail their body around and take giant breaths of air beforehand. They usually conclude the whole production with an exaggerated sigh of relief, "Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" Get over yourself. No one cares about your sneezes. Or you.

    The Protocol Dilemma

    Then there is the whole personal choice you have to make when some sneezes. Do you say: "God bless you?" I feel goofy doing that given the fact that I'm not religious and I also don't subscribe to the belief that the soul leaves the body when you sneeze. There's, "Bless you," which is what I normally opt to say even though the 'God' is more or less implied. Then there's 'Gesundheit' which I will also use about forty percent of the time but I always feel odd saying it since I'm not German. Since 'Gesundheit' is merely a wish for good health it usually feels the most appropriate. A friend of mine told me a story about how she offered a 'Gesundheit' to a co-worker who had just sneezed in the cubicle or desk beside her. The co-worker actually had the audacity to say, "You know, I'd prefer to be blessed."

    The worst thing a human being can do in the event of a sneeze taking place is to say nothing at all. This is why the dilemma previously mentioned is of little consequence in the long run. Not acknowledging a sneeze, to me, is impossible. I can't even fathom how some people can do it. The same way I can't understand how a human being can just toss garbage on the ground when they're done with it, I can't even begin to understand how you can hear someone sneeze and say nothing. It fascinates me. Even knowing that the whole situation is just ludicrous, it's mind-boggling to me to comprehend how someone can just ignore the whole thing.

    Even if that is what makes the most sense.
    Last edited by RoadRaven; 09-02-2006 at 11:28 AM.


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  12. #12
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    Two for joy...

    http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mgesundheit.html

    The custom of saying "God bless you" after a sneeze was begun literally as a blessing. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) ascended to the Papacy just in time for the start of the plague (his successor succumbed to it). Gregory (who also invented the ever-popular Gregorian chant) called for litanies, processions and unceasing prayer for God's help and intercession. Columns marched through the streets chanting, "Kyrie Eleison" (Greek for "Lord have mercy"). When someone sneezed, they were immediately blessed ("God bless you!") in the hope that they would not subsequently develop the plague. All that prayer apparently worked, judging by how quickly the plague of 590 AD diminished.

    The connection of sneezing to the plague is not the first association of sneezing with death. According to Man, Myth, and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, many cultures, even some in Europe, believe that sneezing expels the soul--the "breath of life"--from the body. That doesn't seem too far-fetched when you realize that sneezing can send tiny particles speeding out of your nose at up to 100 miles per hour!

    We know today, of course, that when you sneeze, your heart doesn't stop, nor will your eyes pop out if you can keep them open (www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_30 4.html), nor does your soul get expelled. What does get expelled are hundreds upon thousands of microscopic germs. The current advice when you sneeze is to cover your mouth with your arm rather than your hand. That way, all those germs won't be on your hands when you touch the countless things you're going to touch in the course of the day (don't tell us; we don't want to know).

    There are many superstitions regarding sneezing, some of which you've already listed. But here are some of my favorites.

    Sneeze on Monday for health,
    Sneeze on Tuesday for wealth,
    Sneeze on Wednesday for a letter,
    Sneeze on Thursday for something better,
    Sneeze on Friday for sorrow,
    Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow,
    Sneeze on Sunday, safety seek.


    One for sorrow
    Two for joy
    Three for a letter
    Four for a boy.
    Five for silver
    Six for gold
    Seven for a secret, never to be told.

    And lastly, a sneeze before breakfast is a sign that you will hear exciting news before the end of the day.

    Last edited by RoadRaven; 09-02-2006 at 11:36 AM.


    Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
    "I will try again tomorrow".


  13. #13
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    I stayed on the northeast coast of Jamaica for two months in 2001, working on a midwifery project. Small town, Oracabessa, and smallish-city hospital in Port Maria. It's funny the things that bug you about another culture. Nobody said, "bless you" when someone else sneezed. Nobody except me. It was getting (unexpectedly) really irritating as the weeks passed.

    Near the end of my stay, I attended a birth in which the baby's grandmother was British. She said "Bless you" when her son-in-law sneezed. I commented that I hadn't heard anyone else do so in my whole time there.

    The Jamaican son-in-law said, "Nah, man, in Jamaica dem say 'bless you' when you give dem money!" We all laughed. It's true!
    Run like a dachshund! Ride like a superhero! Swim like a three-legged cat!
    TE Bianchi Girls Rock

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanci
    Did you ever see that Seinfeld episode where they say "You're _so_ good looking!" when someone sneezes?
    I do that at work!!! They all look at me like I have two heads when I do it...... GOD it loses so much effect when you have to explain it.............
    ~Petra~
    Bianchiste TE Girls

    flectere si nequeo superos, Achaeronta movebo

  15. #15
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    I never saw the Seinfeld episode, so I have no idea what everyone is talking about...

    I'm one of those horrible people who doesn't say anything when I hear a sneeze. I also don't say anything when I hear a cough or hear someone blow their nose. I don't like it when people say "god bless you" when I sneeze, because I usually sneeze three times in a row, and then they have to say it three times, which just becomes tedious for everyone involved.

    Did I mention I'm also a curmudgeon and a misanthrope?

 

 

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