Another Sneezing Thread (Bless You!)

So on New Years Eve, technically New Years Day, when my girlfriend and I were going to bed, I mentioned to her that I thought going into the new year I’d stop blessing people after a sneeze. I’ve never been one to “god bless” someone, but usually took part in the social norm of just “blessing” someone. I do identify myself as an atheist, but that wasn’t the reason for stopping. I was just reading some stuff online about the traditions and beliefs and decided that it seemed silly.

Well, I wasn’t really planning on telling everyone I knew about this, only mentioned it to her because she had sneezed before going to bed and when I didn’t say anything I got an “ahem”. I told her my plan and she got kind of mad at me and thought the whole thing was rude.

The next day at breakfast with my parents, again I wasn’t going to announce this plan to the world, she mentions it to my parents. Now in general I’m a very nice person. Probably the exact opposite of what some people might think an atheist would be like. My parents raised me right and I’m a polite, well mannered, nice person. Upon hearing this news, however, they acted like I was going against everything they had ever taught me. Things like, “we raised you better than that” and “why dont you think before you do things like this?” were mentioned.

You’d think I’d just told them I was going to do something absolutely ridiculous in my life and that I would be an entirely different person going forward.

I have to admit the reaction was quite odd to me. The gf has since sneezed a few times and I was silent. She’s convinced I’m now a very rude person.

Anyone else have a similar experience making this “change”?

Coming from multiple backgrounds, the words they say after someone sneezes is “to health” as is hopefully not the first sign of coming down with something.

I don’t know what the english equivalent is for that.

Yeah, if you’re so hung up on the ‘‘bless you’’ part of it you could just say ‘‘Gesundheit’’ or ‘‘Salud’’ which both mean ‘‘health.’’

I really do think it’s rude to say nothing at all. Especially with so many perfectly acceptable secular alternatives.

I say “excuse me” when I sneeze and would rather people not say anything to me. I stopped following the custom of saying “bless you” or anything a long time ago. Most sneezes are not leading to death these days. We understand why people sneeze, I see no reason to acknowledge it. We don’t say anything when people cough or let loose other bodily functions.

I always find it odd when a woman I work with will hear someone far across the room sneeze and she’ll say bless you. They can’t hear her, she just automatically says it. Probably doesn’t even realize she’s doing so.

I’m not really hung up on the meaning. I know what the meanings were back in the day and what they are now. To me it just doesn’t make sense and I think my experience has proven that it’s a social obligation rather than a norm. No one I know believes that it does today what it was meant to have done before. And yet my family and girlfriend seem to be getting very offended by me not saying it. Not because they think they’ll lose their soul or their heart won’t start again, or whatever, but because its the norm.

I just think it’s funny that although everyone I know will admit that it really means nothing, that they get offended by me not wanting to do it. Not just a little offended, but really freaked out about the idea. It’s just weird to me. I didn’t expect the backlash.

I’m with **Falling Leaves ** on ths…I dislike people saying Bless you to me when I sneeze, and I’m a Christian! I say “excuse me” because I’m the one making a loud noise and spewing stuff into the air. And if someone says Bless You (I’m looking at you, o boss of mine) then I have to say thank you, and I can’t, because I’m usually in the middle of sneeze number two, so i feel like I have to hurry up and stammer out a thank you while gasping for air. Just…ignore my sneezing!

So have you asked the GF and the parents to explain why exactly they get offended?

kittenblue - The GF just thinks it’s plain rude. She’s almost taking it like I’m singling her out and only not doing it for her. Logic be damned, shes not going to accept any reasoning. It’s been done before, other people do it, even though it makes no sense, it must be done!

I don’t expect people to bless me. You’d think people would be alright with the whole thing and get over it by returning the favor and not blessing me. I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not doing. Get over it! Haha.

To me it’s basically the equivalent of not holding a door open for someone because you’ve decided it’s an archaic and meaningless practice. Nobody really needs the door held open, do they? But people do it anyway, because it’s polite.

I don’t think your analogy works very well olivesmarch4th. I’m talking about not doing something that serves no real purpose. It was believed to serve a purpose many years ago, it really didn’t, but no one really knew that, but today we know that there is absolutely no purpose to saying it, other than the fact that most of us were taught to say it and continue to do so. Holding the door for someone, whether that be family/friend or perfect stranger, serves a very real function. There’s no superstition or crazy belief behind doing someone that favor.

I always hold doors. I always say please or thank you. I think I’m a pretty considerate, polite person. But I don’t say anything to people when they sneeze. I don’t acknowledge coughing, farting or sniffling, to me a sneeze pretty much falls into the same category.

I’m not an atheist, it’s not that, I just don’t see the need to acknowledge a sneeze in any particular way. It has nothing to do with rudeness. I’ve never made an announcement that I was stopping though. Very few people have even noticed that I don’t say anything. I think the reaction you’re getting might have more to do with the fact that you made the declaration instead of just stopping. That’s not a criticism, just a possible explanation.

I’m with you Mr Bus Guy. I don’t mind doing all the polite things when they’re functional. I really only told the gf cause she sneezed and got mad that I didn’t say anything. I suspect most people wouldn’t really notice if you didn’t say anything, or go out of their way to confront you about it. She’s different. Haha. And the reaction of the family is only because she felt the need to tell them what I told her. Wasn’t exactly planning on sending out an email about it to my entire address book myself. Just wasn’t going to do it going forward. Now I have to decide if it’s worth pissing off the family, and some friends that shes told, or stick to my guns!

You’re entitled to use whatever rationale you want to cease this useless practice. My point is, it’s a social convention that says, ‘‘I care about your health,’’ and some people are going to think you’re rude for saying nothing. If this genuinely upsets your family, I’m baffled why you would ‘‘stick to your guns’’ for something so trivial, unless there’s some deep-seated reason you’re abstaining that you haven’t revealed here. It seems to matter enough to you to start a thread about it, so maybe there’s something to that.

Mr. Bus Guy, I agree. I think making the declaration sort of blows this up into something more than it needs to be. Most people probably wouldn’t notice or would rationalize the OP not responding in some way (i.e. they might think it odd but probably wouldn’t affect their general perception of the abstaining individual. I always notice when people refrain from acknowledging a sneeze, but it doesn’t really affect my interaction with them in any meaningful way.) Making a public declaration just kind of exacerbates the feelings of anyone who considers it the polite thing to do.

ETA: Reading your last post, your girlfriend sounds kinda high-strung. I’d probably be annoyed by your behavior but I don’t think I’d be outraged or venting to my friends.

you’re so good looking?

I’m not sure I follow rocking chair.

I don’t think that responding to someone’s sneeze by a standard reaction is going to imply any belief in a God on your part.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can try the French version: À tes souhaits! or À vos souhaits! (the polite form). “To your wishes!”, another form of superstition, no doubt.

Sorry, but by virtue of posting 9 minutes after rocking chair you do follow them. Not much can be done about this, but, hey, you made your bed by choosing to reply after rocking chair

Stepped right into that one didn’t I? And to think, I was going to reply differently. Oh well.

I find it interesting how different cultures react to a sneeze. (Yes, I’m a geek.)

“Bless you” apparently comes from a superstition that people were expelling evil spirits.

As has been mentioned, in Spanish and many other languages and cultures, they wish you good health after you sneeze. Salud!

And in one Chinese dialect, they make a joke. Because a sneeze sounds like their words for “Will you go with me?,” people respond to a sneeze by saying their words for “Yes, I will go with you.”

Try saying that and seeing the looks you get.

I have dust mite allergies and sinus issues, I sneeze a lot and never just once. I would rather people not say anything to me or if they must say something, just say it once not after every freakin’ sneeze. I can’t help it and I don’t want them to feel obligated every time I sneeze.

I do tend to say “bless you” to other people out of habit but I will only do if once. They usually don’t ask for more blessings after multiple sneezes but if they did, I’d tell them that my blessings are so powerful they only need one.

seinfeld reference rayray5884. they tried to change “bless you” to “you’re so goodlooking”.

i usually use the german and if someone sneezes more that once i tell them that “one good health wish fits all” or you just get one per day.