Today in math class a girl behind me sneezed and
I karate chopped her in the throat I said bless you along with a couple other people. And the girl said thank you. Then I wondered, why do we still say bless you?
There are a few theories on why people started saying God bless you after a person sneezed, but they all pretty much tie to you possibly dying because of a sneeze. One of the more popular theories (that some people still believe today…) is that your heart stops momentarily/skips a beat when you sneeze.1 Another is that when you sneeze, your soul is vulnerable to evil spirits or some shit. Then finally, the only plausible, but still outdated, explanation is that during the various plagues that took place during the late middle ages, if someone sneezed they should be blessed to help prevent their inevitable death from horrible disease.
To recap, sneezing can lead to: heart stopping, evil spirits and death from plague. Okay. Except none of those things happen. Which begs the question, why do we still say bless you? I’ve noticed that from the time I was a kid, to now, the prevalence of saying God bless you has dropped, being replaced by just bless you. (And then there’s “good blesh you,” which is what I said as a kid and makes no sense at all. It’s like the nonsensical, secular version of the phrase.) The fact that it has become less religious over the years is pleasant (yay secularism!) but it’s still kind of a useless phrase.
I mean, let’s think about this. Obviously it’s just a tradition that stuck around for centuries, and we all say it out of habit and to be polite. But why haven’t we collectively stopped to say, “Wait a minute, this phrase actually makes no sense. It’s a ridiculous response to sneezing. Why would someone be blessed for sneezing? Did Jesus bless people when they sneezed?” etc. The German phrase, gesundheit makes more sense, since it translates to health. Wishing someone healthiness after they sneeze is a reasonable response.
And why don’t we bless people for everything? Coughing is usually more serious than sneezing. Sometimes when people cough, they cough up blood. In the movies, you always cough up blood before dying. Don’t you think that would require a little more Godly intervention than mild irritation of your nasal passage? These are important questions that need answers dammit!
I mean, if anything, people should say excuse me when they sneeze. People say excuse me when they burp and sometimes when they cough, because they are making weird, bodily noises and spraying germs everywhere. When you sneeze, your saliva and mucus and sometimes food fly out of your mouth at around 40mph (63km/h). Your head is literally shooting bodily things out of your face, usually accompanied by a weird, loud noise that can only be described as a sneeze, and people are blessing you. You’d think you were the Pope or something.
I think it’s time we start a revolution. No more saying bless you! Throw off the shackles of nonsensical social etiquette! Take no prisoners in your war on bless you! Viva le resistance!
Speaking of revolutions, everyone should know about Occupy Wall Street. I think it’s kind of a big deal and it’s about time people started collectively expressing their outrage at the sham of a financial system in place.
Sorry for triple footnotes, but I also just wanted to mention that, hey, I have a new design up. Feedback is always appreciated.
1Fun fact: I had to convince a few people in grade 10 that your heart does not in fact stop when you sneeze.