I have a cold. When I get a cold, my worst symptom is always sneezing. I have sneezed NO LESS than 50 times today and although I am not complaining, after hearing, “God Bless you” over and over again, I decided to look up its origin and see how the saying came to be. I found a few different stories:
The first explanation that I found, said that it began as an actual blessing. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) began his leadership in the Catholic Church just in time for the start of the plague. Gregory called for litanies, and constant prayer for God’s help and intercession. People marched through the streets chanting, “Kyrie Eleison”, which is Greek for “Lord have mercy”. When someone sneezed, they were immediately blessed “God bless you!” in the hope that they would not develop the plague.
Many cultures, believe that sneezing expels the soul–the “breath of life”–from the body, which opens it to the devil, therefore warranting others to say, “God Bless You”. While other people believe that your heart stops when you sneeze and therefore saying, “God Bless You” wills the heart to start beating again.
I found one website where people were bantering about why they REFUSE to say “God Bless You”. Some for the religious aspect and others because they feel that the superstitions behind it make it seem nonsensical.
Personally, I always say, “Bless you” or “God Bless You” when I hear someone sneeze. I don’t do it for any superstitious reasons, nor for any religious regions. I do it because I my parents taught me that it was common courtesy to say it when someone sneezed. I have taught my children the same. How about you? Do you say it? Why or why not? I would be interested in hearing your response.