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Why do we say Bless You after a sneeze?

August 28th, 2008

Ahh-chooo – Bless you!!

We have all heard the saying “bless you” in fact we hear it almost everyday, further it is not something that only english speakers say, but almost every culture and language. But why? What is so special about it? Why is it that almost every culture use the word when someone sneeze?

English – Bless you

Farsi – Pir Shavi “Get old”

Hindi – Khush Rahi Hoon “be happy”

Persian – “Elahi shokr”(means Thanks god for be health).

For a list of Sneezes around the world – Check out this Site.

As you can see it is not something just around US, Canada, UK or Australia but many other places. Time to answer the puzzling question. But why do we say Bless You instead of something else.

To answer this question we have to go back at early times, because there are many possible answers for this certain question. First of all, the word bless you was actually God Bless you or May God Bless You, over time people start using bless you.

First possible answer is that in medieval times people believed that when someone sneezed their body was rejecting demons. by saying “god bless you” they were hoping to guard against the evil spirits entering the body again.

The tradition of saying Bless You also comes from the plague of 1665 when sneezing was first symptoms of the disease. The plague was so life-threatening that infection of the disease meant certain death. Thus the symptoms was greeted with the prayer God Bless You, and through time it became popular and people started using it.

To know more about the Black Plague of 1665 please try Google or Wikipedia. It was one of the most dangerous diseases to hit to date.

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