‘Achooo!’ Spring has sprung! And with it allergies are in full force these days…the pollen count is wreaking havoc. I’m hearing sneezes everywhere I go. And immediately after a sneeze you can count on someone or many people together saying, “Bless You!” This is one of those good mannered automatic responses that we have grown up with. It is just what you do. You hear a sneeze, you say bless you!
But why do we do this? Where did this originate from? And why do we feel compelled to even say it to complete strangers? Well, as with many of our long lived sayings, the origins can be a little fuzzy. But here are a few to share…
The most popular theory is that it came about in Rome during the 6th century when the Bubonic Plague was raging through towns wiping out great portions of the population. Sneezing was actually one of the plague’s main symptoms. So if someone sneezed it meant they could soon actually be facing death. “God Bless You” or “Bless You” was a well wishing prayer to protect the person who sneezed from succumbing to an awful death.
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