ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why do we say Bless you When Someone Sneezes?

Updated on October 3, 2016

In many cultures saying bless you when someone's sneezes is part of everyday social interactions, much like waving back when someone waves to you or standing in line when waiting to pay, it is just something we do. Very few of us actually know where the use of this blessing originated or why we actually say it.

Most historians agree that the custom of saying bless you is a very old one. The origins of the custom is less clear.

Several sources cite times of plague or during the Black Death as the most likely beginnings of the custom. Sneezing was considered one of the indications that someone was developing the plague and would soon be sick. By blessing them you were asking for divine intervention to keep them well.

Another theory is that in ancient times people believed that your soul could be expelled from your body by a sneeze and taken by the Devil. Saying bless you protected this from happening, the oath protected you soul until it made it back to you.

A further theory was the opposite to the prior one. Sneezing was the bodies way of expelling any evil, consequently saying bless you prevented the evil from re entering the body once it is expelled.

In the times before accurate knowledge of human anatomy it was thought by some that the heart would stop during a sneeze. By blessing them the heart would continue beating.


sneezing | Source

Why do we Sneeze?

Sneezing is the bodies way of expelling something that is invading the nose. It is a reflex that we cannot entirely control. A study by the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center referenced in a National Geographic article

'found that the burst of air produced by a sneeze not only clears nasal passages but also triggers the cilia sensors to kick the paddles into high gear for an extended period—about a couple minutes'.

The body is protecting itself from any germs or allergens.

Things that Make you Sneeze

Causes of a Sneeze
after eating a large meal
looking at a bright light
having a cold
irritants e.g. pepper
plucking your eyebrows
chewing mint gum

Other Times we use Bless You

The saying Bless You is used in a variety of situations not just when someone sneezes. God Bless you or May God Bless You are all variations of a common phrase used to wish the recipient good luck or good health. Often said at the end of meeting or event, it is meant as a way to wish someone well, not always within a religious context. In the UK it is the custom to say to children 'Good Night, God Bless' when they go to bed.

Sneezing Superstitions

if you sneeze it means company is coming over
if your cat sneezes it means it will rain
your heart stops when you sneeze
your eyes can pop out when you sneeze
if you hold a sneeze it causes a stroke
sneezing before putting on one’s shoes is a bad omen
a sneeze before starting work means a bad work day.
a sneeze at the beginning of a meal mean a new friend will be made before your next meal
a sneeze to the right is lucky, the left unlucky
if you sneeze while you are talking you are telling the truth

Traditional Sneezing Rhyme

Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger.

Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger.

Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze for a letter.

Sneeze on Thursday, something better.

Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for woe.

Sneeze on Saturday, a journey to go.

Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek—for Satan will have you for the rest of the week!

Interesting Facts about Sneezing

Sneezes start with your nerves
Sneezes travel about 100 miles per hour
You don't sneeze in your sleep
Iguanas are the most sneezy animal
Sneezes have a spray distance of up to 5 miles
Your eyes close automatically when you sneeze.
It's common to have several sneezes in a row

The use of the phrase 'bless you' when someone sneezes is rooted in superstitions and beliefs of ancient times. Whether you use the phrase or expect to hear it when you sneeze, for some it is part of their everyday social etiquette.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)