"Bless You" when someone sneezes

Posted by James Briggs on September 02, 2000

In Reply to: "Bless You" when someone sneezes posted by Bruce Kahl on September 02, 2000

: : I am looking for the origin of why we say "Bless You", when someone sneezes. Help??

: I always thought it was because at one time the ancients thought a person was composed of various vapors or gases that kept you alive physically and spiritually and when you sneezed you lost some of these vapors thereby reducing your ability to live a healthy life.
: So when you sneezed your companion would pray to God asking for His help in restoring your vapors to its previous healthy condition.
: The above is just something I always thought to be true---I have no references to back it up!

Another suggestion. In Britain there is a very old nursery rhyme called "ring 'o ring 'o roses" in which there is a verse " atishoo, atishoo, all fall down". This goes back to the times of the plague (Pneumonic version) which was characterised by initial sneezing prior to the rest of the symptoms and then probable death. Perhaps the "bless you" comes from these times and expresses hope that the sneeze is innocent in origin.