where did the custom of saying "bless you" after someone sneezes come from?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are many theories regarding the origin of this custom.

    One traditional explanation for the custom is that it began literally as a blessing. Pope Gregory I the Great (AD 540-604) ascended to the Papacy just in time for the start of the bubonic plague in AD 590 (his successor succumbed to it). To combat the plague, Gregory ordered litanies, processions and unceasing prayer for God's intercession. When someone sneezed (seen as the initial onset of the plague), they were immediately blessed ("God bless you!") in the hope that they would not actually develop the disease.

    Other theories are based on superstitions and urban legends about sneezing and what a sneeze entails. Some people think the heart stops, but it doesn't...some people think the sneezer is lucky and the 'bless you' is an extension of that.

  • 1 decade ago

    I always heard that people used to believe that the soul left the body when someone sneezed, so "God bless you" was to protect the soul from Satan's attack and the body from being taken over before the soul could return. However, I looked into this after you asked, and snopes.com has several possible origins. See the link below.

    Now, of course, we say it to wish the person good health.

    Interesting question and answers!

  • 1 decade ago

    One traditional explanation for the custom is that it began literally as a blessing. Pope Gregory I the Great (AD 540-604) ascended to the Papacy just in time for the start of the bubonic plague in AD 590 (his successor succumbed to it). To combat the plague, Gregory ordered litanies, processions and unceasing prayer for God's blessing. When someone sneezed (seen as the initial onset of the plague), they were immediately blessed ("God bless you!") in the hope that they would not actually develop the disease.

    There are more explanations in Wikipedia.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Medically speaking when a person sneezes, All your internal orgons are thrusted to the front of your body. Your heart stops, along with the rest of your orgons, for a second.

    So technically when a person sneezes they die for a split second. So we say bless you, to bless they're soul.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In the old days when you sneezed you soul was expelled. Saying bless you prevented it or brought it back.Don't know what happened if you were by youslf.

  • 1 decade ago

    I've heard it was from the belief that your soul would fly out during a sneeze and then be prone to attacks from evil spirits, so you bless the person so the soul can safely return.

  • 1 decade ago

    They say it comes from Europe back when the black plague was killing people. Just before people would die they would have a sneezing fit and they would bless before they died.

  • 1 decade ago

    Way back in history they thought when someone sneezed the devil jumped into them and a quick God Bless You would make the devil jump out again.

    By the way...God bless you!

  • 1 decade ago

    I remember reading somewhere that it was thought a person was getting rid of evil spirits when they sneezed. It was around the Victorian age, I think.

  • 1 decade ago

    People use to think that when someone sneezed it was your body's way of ridding itself of an evil spirit or demon. So they would say bless you really fast so that it couldn't reenter your body.

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