“ Achoo…..God bless you… Thank you.” Have you ever wondered why people say “God bless you” when you sneeze? Almost everyone does it. At times it can get a bit awkward when someone has a sneezing fit and keeps sneezing for 5 minutes…. when should you stop saying God bless you? Hmmmmm.
How did this practice get started? Well there are a few theories. “The most popular theory is that it originated in Rome when the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe. Sneezing was one the plague’s main symptoms, and it is believed that Pope Gregory I suggested that a tiny prayer in the form of saying, “God bless you” after a sneeze would protect the person from death. Another, more superstitious theory, is that it stems from the ancient belief that a sneeze might accidentally expel the spirit from the body unless God blessed you and prevented it. A blessing was to protect both the sneezer and those around him.” Yikes,
“There’s also a theory that our heart stops when we sneeze, and that saying, “God bless you,” is a way of welcoming the sneezer back from the dead.” There actually may be a modicum of truth in this theory. In an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Kenneth Mayuga, M.D., a cardiologist, says, “While sneezing may have the potential to slow the heartbeat for a very short amount of time — for example, from an increase in what’s called the vagal tone — overall we do not see it causing clinically meaningful pauses.” “We know this because we have heart monitors that can record your heart rate and rhythm for up to four years,” he continues. “These monitors are designed to detect clinically meaningful heart pauses, which is something we generally don’t see with sneezing.” The result: The heart’s rhythm is momentarily thrown off-kilter. But your heart doesn’t really stop.” (“Does Your Heart Stop When You Sneeze”, June 28, 2021 Cleveland Clinic ) Okay, it looks like we put that theory to rest.
What is somewhat interesting is that today people are very reluctant to mention God anywhere…in business, in politics, in schools, yet everyone from the worst pagan to the criminals on death row will say “God bless you” when you sneeze. Maybe it’s a way to get a conversation about God going with someone. “Go up to a person, inhale some pepper, start sneezing….and when he says “God bless you”, you can pick it up from there.”
Anyway, it’s something in our culture that helps us to show kindness to our neighbor… pretty small, but it’s something. It’s a way of relating to someone… the beginning of a conversation, maybe a relationship. Gee, how did you meet your wife ….”well, this pretty girl was having a sneezing fit and I said God bless you….and the rest is history.”
Okay, enough is enough….. I think we’ve squeezed all the blood out of this turnip we’re going to get. “So, goodnight Chet… goodnight David”.