Have you ever wondered why someone says ‘bless you’ when you sneeze?
And no one says anything when you belch or cough or even fart. I’m sure you have wondered it as I have. My curiosity drove me to find out the relationship between these two seemingly unrelated phenomenon.
According to findings, wishing someone well after a sneeze originated from time immemorial. During the Early Roman Empire, people would say ‘Jupiter preserve you or salve which meant good health to you and the Greek would wish each other ‘long life’ when someone sneezes.
However, the coinage of bless you after a sneeze is directly attributed to Pope Gregory the Great in AD 590 who it is believed to have uttered it during a bubonic plague as sneezing was believed to be one of the symptoms of the plague.
Funny yet true, almost all countries have a way of saying a greeting after a sneeze, in china to start with when a child sneezes he or she would hear ‘bai sui’ meaning ‘may you live up to 100years (might explain why they live long?). Arabs would say ‘Alhamdulillah’ meaning ‘praise to God’ while Hindus would say ‘live’ or ‘Live well’ among others
Even more superstitious is the belief in some quarter that sneezing releases a bit of a person’s soul through the nose ( I guess I have just a quarter of my soul left at this stage), however a ‘bless you’ would stop the devil from claiming the freed bits.
In however form it may come, science has proven that a sneeze is a reflex action commonly caused by cold, strong odour or an allergy and has no founded spiritual connotation.
Albeit, whether out of courtesy or custom, when next there’s a sneeze around you be sure to say a bless you – Etttcchhhheeemmm!!!! Did I hear a bless me?