Sofia Sierra, Reporter

When someone sneezes, a “bless you” follows. It has been this way since the dawn of time, or at least the Bubonic Plague. Ingrained in our brains from the first time we heard a loud sneeze, “bless you” is a common courtesy. A miniscule form of etiquette that is extremely disturbing if not used. The awkward silence that follows after one sneezes and no ¨bless you¨ is given is almost criminal. And more crimes are being committed. So why are people losing this deep-seated manner? 

All origin stories for the phrase “God Bless You” are purely based on superstition, but their reasons are quite interesting. During the Roman Plague of 590, sneezing was a common symptom of the deadly illness. As a result, Pope Gregory l of the Roman-Catholic Church began saying “God Bless You”, believing that it would shield the ill from death. It was one of the only things that the church could do during the Plague, finding that this prayer of divine intervention was helpful in preventing the deadliness of the disease. 

Another origin story based on Greek superstition focused on how sneezing released your soul, believing that one’s soul was found in their head. People thought that your soul would be released, expelling your spirit away. So, they began saying “God Bless You” in efforts to have God keep their spirit as theirs. 

Some other unidentified ancient cultures also find that sneezing forces evil spirits from the body, releasing them to be taken into another person around them. This caused more intense sayings of “God Bless You” to prevent evil spirits from invading others around the sneezer. 

In Germany, “Gesundheit” is typically said after a sneeze. It’s the German word for “Health” and is used to prevent illnesses that typically follow a loud sneeze. 

So after all of this tradition, why are fewer and fewer people concerned with sneezing? Many people believe that “Bless you” is an outdated saying. After all we are not in the middle of a Plague…at least not anymore. And many doubt that the devil actually emerges from you when you sneeze. Certain people might also feel a sort of religious push, as the origins of “God Bless” are from Catholic and Christian religions. It has also been noticed that if someone is mid-sneeze, and another says “Bless you”,  most of the time they will not be able to finish their sneeze. This can be found quite annoying–use this information wisely. 

The ¨Bless You¨ phenomenon is nothing close to over even if it is having a few bumps in the road. Whether or not you choose to carry on the centuries-old tradition of “Bless you”, people will still sneeze. Your heart will in fact NOT stop beating when you sneeze. Just know, if someone sneezes and you don´t say “Bless You”, it will be a tad bit awkward. 

International Language Responses to a Sneeze:

German – “Gesundheit”

Greeks and Romans – “Banish the Omen”

Hindu – “Live” and “With you”

Zulu – “I am now blessed”