One explanation holds that the custom originally began as an actual blessing. Gregory I became Pope in 590 as an outbreak of the bubonic plague was reaching Rome. In hopes of fighting off the disease, he ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets. At the time, sneezing was thought to be an early symptom of the plague. The blessing ("God bless you!") became a common effort to halt the disease.
A variant of the Pope Gregory I story places it with Pope Gregory VII, then tells the common story of "Ring Around the Rosey" being connected to the same plague.
Another version says that people used to believe that your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze, that sneezing otherwise opened your body to invasion by the Devil or evil spirits, or that sneezing was your body's effort to force out an invading evil spirit. Thus, "bless you" or "God bless you" is used as a sort of shield against evil.
So don't you think it's about time this practice is stopped. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a nice tradition but some people get down right nasty if you don't say it when someone sneezes. It's becoming downright irritating.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
God Bless You
According to Wikipedia