Why do people say “God bless U” when someone sneezes?

The expression of saying “God bless you” after sneezing may have originated from a superstition, and every culture has different superstitions…

In Europe around the  Middle Ages, it was believed that one’s life was tied to one’s breath, the word expire originally meaning “to exhale” and then later on gaining the additional meaning of “to come to an end” or “to die”.  Therefore when one sneezed, a significant amount of breath was expelled from the body which led people to believe that sneezing could easily be fatal.

In certain parts of Eastern Asia a sneeze without an obvious cause was perceived as a sign that someone was talking about the sneezer at that very moment (ohhh… scary!).

Polish Culture believed that sneezes may be an ill-fated sign that one’s mother-in-law is speaking ill of their son-in-law at that moment. The same phenomenon is thought to correspond to a daughter-in-law and their respective mother-in-law.

In other parts of the world it was believed that a human’s soul is centrally located in the head, in the form of air. They believed that the soul may be expelled through sneezing, so they needed God’s blessing to prevent this form from happening.

Some ancient cultures believed that sneezing forced evil spirits out of the body and as such could endanger other people nearby. A blessing was believed to protect the person sneezing as well as the people around him/her.

Interesting facts about sneezing include

  • A sneeze can travel at the speed of 100 mph;
  • People do not sneeze when they are sleeping since the nerves are also resting;
  • 18% and 35% of the population sneeze when they are exposed to bright light;
  • People may sneeze due to plucking of eyebrows, since the nerve endings in the face are irritated and then fire a certain impulse that reaches the nasal nerve.

2 Responses to Why do people say “God bless U” when someone sneezes?

  1. http://tinyurl.com/kegocubit34843 says:

    I personally think about how come you titled this particular posting, “Why do people say “God bless U” when someone
    sneezes? SinusWars Official Blog”. Either way I
    personally admired the article!Thanks for your effort-Mercedes

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