I have no problem with people saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. I do however, mind that people expect me to say it. The social etiquette is that you must say “bless you” when someone sneezes , no matter what the circumstance or how well you know them.
Worse yet, if you do not say it then you are considered very rude. I was scolded by a supervisor at my last job for not saying “bless you” to the secretary. This was the secretary who I could not stand and tried to avoid.
This woman was a mean person who harassed me at work and made my life miserable. I was busy speaking with a client when this secretary happened to sneeze. I said nothing and continued about my business.
My supervisor made a big deal to embarrass me and tell me I should have said “bless you”. She continued to go on about the fact that I had been so rude.
It is so ridiculous. I was very tempted to ask the supervisor if she even knew why people said “bless you” anyway. I mean, for god sake, it is just a sneeze. Why should everyone be so concerned that they have to all rally together and bless the frickin person.
This is followed by another social law that the person receiving the “bless you” has to say thank you. There is nothing I hate more than when I sneeze three times in a row and someone says “bless you” “…”oh bless you” … “oh you poor thing! Bless you !!” And I have to say “thank you”…”thank you” … “oh for god’s sake, I’m not dying, Leave me alone. I can’t keep saying thank you, I’m busy sneezing”
So, does that supervisor know why she is saying bless you anyway? NO!!!!
If people knew, then they may not say it or call people rude for not saying it. So let’s clear this annoying thing up.
Why do people just follow these out-dated social customs blindly? Why does no one bother to look it up and find out why they are saying it.
In the year 590 the bubonic plague broke out in Europe. So many people were dying that Pope Gregory I ordered his followers so pray without ceasing and have parades in the streets to pray away the disease. He was hoping all the blessings or “bless you” chants would send the disease away and keep people from dying.
Now, the chance that the person sneezing next to you has the bubonic plague is unlikely.
There is also an old folk belief that when people sneeze their soul flies out of their body. During the few seconds the soul is out flying around wildly, the devil could take the soul. So people said bless you to protect the crazy soul flying around the room.
So, at a professional place of work, I am supposed to bless the soul of the sneezer which is flying around the room, and then get back to the business of being an intelligent , educated professional.
I think people should have the right to not say bless you. Is it not religious discrimination to force someone to ask God to bless someone?
And what does it mean when someone who does not believe in God says “bless you” anyway?
I just find it very strange that perfectly educated people never question these things. It is illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs, but we scold people for not blessing the snotty sneezer.
So that’s my rant about bubonic plague and souls flying around the room. Tomorrow, when someone you don’t like sneezes , just open the window and let the soul fly out. That is the other folk custom about souls but we will do a blog on that another day.