“Bless you” & sneezing

Why do you say Bless you when people sneeze?
Is there good reason or history?

When someone sneeze, if I don’t say Bless you, am I rude?


The following excerpt from howstuffworks.com gives some insight:

The phrase “God bless you” is
attributed to Pope Gregory the Great,
who uttered it in the sixth century
during a bubonic plague epidemic
(sneezing is an obvious symptom of one
form of the plague).

The exchangeable term “gesundheit”
comes from Germany, and it literally
means “health.” The idea is that a
sneeze typically precedes illness. It
entered the English language in the
early part of the 20th century,
brought to the United States by
German-speaking immigrants.

For the most part, the various sneeze
responses originated from ancient
superstitions. Some people believed
that a sneeze causes the soul to
escape the body through the nose.
Saying “bless you” would stop the
devil from claiming the person’s freed
soul. Others believed the opposite:
that evil spirits use the sneeze as an
opportunity to enter a person’s body.
There was also the misconception that
the heart momentarily stops during a
sneeze (it doesn’t), and that saying
“bless you” was a way of welcoming the
person back to life.

We now know that sneezing is a reflex
action and is most often the sign of
something relatively benign, such as a
cold or allergy. A sneeze also can be
provoked by being outside in the
sunlight or from smelling a strong
odor. Still, we persist in the custom
of saying “bless you” or “gesundheit,”
mainly out of habit and common

As to the second part of your question; according to me, it depends on the context. If someone I’m talking to sneezes at that moment, I say it.

Source : Link , Question Author : Benjamin , Answer Author : Mehper C. Palavuzlar

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