Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fake Sneezing Manners

Just let the kid be gobbled up by Satan.
 I'm sick to death of people saying "God Bless You" or "Gesundheit" (German for health) when someone in their immediate vicinity sneezes.

The thing is people used to believe that humans only had a limited amount of breath, and so when a person sneezed, they thought they were losing precious breath and becoming weaker. Hence "God Bless You." In other words, "I hope God protects you because you just lost a good hunk of your limited breath."

People also believed that when a person sneezed, it released their soul, and their soul could be captured by evil spirits. Or that evil spirits could enter through the open mouth while a person was in the act of sneezing. Some say this blessing started during the plague and that a sneeze was a symptom of the horrible disease. If you "blessed" someone, perhaps YOU would stop them from getting the plague. In Renaissance times, a superstition was formed claiming one's heart stopped for a very brief moment during the sneeze, saying "bless you" was a sign of prayer that the heart wouldn't fail possibly the devil's doing by sending demons to clasp the heart in the body's moment of shock from the sneeze.

OK. So can we stop this already? When a person sneezes, there is a moment of silence to give somebody the appropriate second to say "bless you." Most times, I have found, people still do say this. Sometimes, the sneeze passes without a blessing, but there usually is that moment of waiting for someone to acknowledge a sneeze. I don't think people believe the devil stuff anymore. It is purely out of "politeness." I have actually seen people "Bless" somebody who is having a sneezing fit. Saying, "Bless you, bless you, bless you" multiple times makes the blesser look "concerned." I think saying "bless you" multiple times is an annoying cry for attention from the person giving the blessing.

The split second after a sneeze is an awkward moment for those of us who are not going to "bless" someone to keep the devil away. I have also seen people who sneeze look hurt that nobody blessed them. It is a confusing social tradition that has lingered way too long and found itself somehow in the 21st century, exiting our world TOO SLOWLY.

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