"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bless You!

I don't know if this is just me or not, but have you noticed a pronounced decline in the frequency of 'bless you's in response to sneezing? I started noticing about a week ago, probably because my allergies were really bad. No one in my office said bless you. Once. And it wasn't just with me. The more I paid attention, the more I realized that no one was saying bless you to anyone.

Except me. I say bless you all the time. Even if someone is a multiple sneezer. Why? Because it's polite. I think it's a nice gesture. Not only are you acknowledging their existence, but you're throwing a free blessing their way. What's not to like?

What's extra strange is that the people I bless never return the favour. Despite their pleased expression of surprise and delight whenever I bless them, when I sneeze they don't reciprocate.They remain completely silent. At first, I was just mildly put off. But it's become rather creepy. No one but myself says it. I feel like I'm in some kind of body snatcher movie, where the only sign that someone's been taken is their inability to say 'bless you' when someone sneezes. Did I miss a meeting? Did every come to a general consensus that 'bless you' was outdated or no longer necessary? If so, I didn't get the memo.


  1. It's the same story at my office!! Only myself and one other girl say bless you! And no one else does no matter how many times you say bless you to them they won't say it back! It's strange and off-putting!

  2. If it makes you feel any better - I still say it, I've trained my children to say it and at my work place we yell it from our offices if we hear someone sneeze (but I do work in a church so I'm not sure if that counts) ;)

  3. I think that not responding the same way is due to the way they are bred. In their childhood they are not taught to say "bless you" Once its a habit with them they will do it (like you do)

  4. Okay, so I have a devil's advocate kind of answer for you.

    I was raised to say "bless you" when someone sneezed. In fact, a Romanian lady my father considered a second mother told me a charming story about the custom: People said bless you when someone sneezed because they thought the soul might escape with the sneeze. In Romania, they said bless you for the first two sneezes, but if someone had the audacity to risk their soul three times, then at the third sneeze they said, "May the devil take you." I will never forget Nini telling me that story as long as I live.

    However, I no longer consider myself a Christian so it started to seem a bit hypocritical and overly religious to say bless you when someone sneezed. I actually debated the merits of whether or not to say it based on common courtesy, etc. Mostly now, I don't say it.

    I have no insight as to why people in general no longer say it, other than that it follows a trend away from basic manners. The excuse many give is that manners are old fashioned and classist, when in fact, the observance of "proper" behavior was based on the idea of putting everyone around you at ease.

    So maybe I should start saying bless you again and leave the ecumenical particulars up to the sneezer.

  5. All right, Angela wins for best answer ever!! I especially love that after three sneezes they said, 'may the devil take you'. And in fact, I think I'll start using that. (Although at this point I think the devil has taken me a lot). Perhaps we could replace it with something that has less historical religious implications, like "happy sneeze time!" or "mucus begon-egess!" I'm open to suggestions.