Categories: History

Why People Often Say “Bless You” When Someone Sneezes

Apparently, the tradition started during the Black Death pandemic.

  • According to historians, the common tradition of saying “God bless you” or “bless you” started way back the Black Death Pandemic.
  • Pope Gregory I urged the faithful to pray for and bless those afflicted by the disease.

It’s a common phrase we hear – or we may have even said it ourselves – whenever someone sneezes. “God bless you” or simply “bless you” has often followed a sneeze and while Christendom has pointed out its first biblical mention in Numbers chapter 6 verse 24 of the Old Testament (the passage reads “The Lord bless you and keep you”), the phrase has commonly been used as a farewell message.

So how did it end up becoming an automatic response to sneezing? According to historians, the tradition traces its roots back to the days of the bubonic plague, which is also known as the Black Death pandemic.

In a blog by the UCatholic website, we learn that Pope Gregory I encouraged believers to pray for divine help during the destructive plague that claimed numerous lives in Europe. He also told the people to quickly bless those who sneeze – one of the signs of getting infected with the lethal disease.

In a New York Times feature, Fordham University history professor W. David Myers further explained:

“For European Christians, when the first plague that weakened the now Christian Roman Empire around 590, Pope Gregory the Great believed that a sneeze was an early warning sign of plague, so he commanded Christians to respond to a sneeze with a blessing.”

The tradition stuck and spread and eventually, the short phrase was further shortened after some began to drop the name of diety, reducing it to only “bless you” in an attempt to make it a bit a more universal.

Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and social scientist Dr. Omar Sultan Haque said that some atheists do not like the three-word blessing and so for them, a simple “bless you” is preferable as it only implies a wish for good health.

Frank Farley, a professor of psychology in Temple University also added:

“Saying simply ‘bless you’ also reduces religious implications or revelations about your own beliefs. It’s more nonsectarian.”

Watch this video to learn more:

Like on Facebook

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

March 14th Holiday – Pi Day or Something Else?

Table of Contents: Introduction: The Significance of the March 14th Holiday The Mathematical Marvel: Unraveling…

November 1, 2023

Mystery Of Missing Pages

Who made them disappear? What was the reason? Where did they go? Why? Gather round,…

July 26, 2023

Bees Kill Penguins by Stinging Them in the Eyes

Swarm of bees stings the eyes of penguins in Cape town 60 penguins died from…

November 16, 2021

2000 Kilogram Sunfish Caught Off North African Coast

A massive ocean sunfish measuring 2,000 kilograms was caught on North African Coast It is named Mola alexandrini or…

November 16, 2021

Man Embezzles $57K in COVID-19 Relief to Buy Pokemon Cards

A businessman in Georgia utilized the Covid-19 relief to buy a limited edition Charizard Pokemon card He committed…

November 8, 2021

Florida Man Catches and “Recycles” Alligator in Driveway

Man captures an alligator in his neighbor's yard in FloridaHe uses a trash can to…

November 1, 2021

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.