Why Do People Say Bless You When You Sneeze?

As is widely understood, sneezing can help rid your nasal passages of foreign particles and irritants, but many may not realize it is against our natural instinct to hold in a sneeze – it is actually designed as a protective mechanism by your body – yet many still find themselves saying “bless you” whenever someone sneezes; why do we say this and where does its origin lie?

Various Theories

There are various theories as to why we say, “Bless you,” when someone sneezes. Most theories point back to superstition; for instance, Google defines superstition as the belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.

Additionally, some believe sneezing was once thought to be more than just physical but spiritual as well: when sneezing occurs your soul may also leave your body; this meant Satan could try and steal it away so the incantation “bless you” served as a defense mechanism against him and ensure your soul made its return home safely.

Sign of Good Fortune

Sneezing may be seen as a sign of good fortune; thus, acknowledging this blessing with an exchanged blessing such as offering “bless yous” when someone sneezes may be seen as an easy and polite way to recognize their good fortune and pass it along.

This might explain why so many people make an effort to offer blessings when hearing someone sneeze–it shows your acknowledgement of their success while passing it onto others in similar fashion.

Act of Compassion

One theory proposes that saying, “Bless you!” after someone sneezes is meant as an act of compassion and to encourage them on the road to recovery – so much so, that many continue using the expression even today, without credible evidence to back it up.

No matter the reason behind it, this theory has contributed to making “bless you” part of our everyday language. But why do we feel compelled to say it regardless? Dara Avenius of New York Publicist states that she automatically says bless you whenever anyone sneezes, including her dog!

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