Home > Superstitions > Sneezing

Sneezing

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 5 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Sneezing Bless You God Bless You

You can’t hold it in; the pressure behind your nose is building and the bright sunlight is triggering a reflex, and try as you might you can’t hold it back… “ACHOO!” You sneezed! Quick, what happens next? Did your soul just leave your body? Did a demon slip inside you in a moment of vulnerability? Is someone gossiping about you? Are you going to die? Believe it or not, all of these questions were taken seriously at various points in history, all because of Sneezing superstitions.

The Sneezing Superstitions

Sneezing is nothing unusual. It happens every day all over the world to countless people, and in many cultures the traditional response- delivered in most cases by reflex—is either “God bless you” or “Gesunheit.” The latter is a German and Yiddish word that means, roughly “better health”, and is meant as “good vibes” and a positive thing. A sneeze is often associated with sickness, so a wish for good health makes sense; the former, which is often shortened to “bless you”, however, might leave someone scratching their head. Why would a sneeze be a prompting for divine intervention? Because people used to worry that sneezing was a prelude to the soul leaving the body, and death.

The Origin of the Sneezing Superstitions

In the old testament and in Jewish tradition, it is said that God breathed life into Adam “through his nostrils”, and tradition suggests that life leaves the body the same way it came in. A sneeze will certainly expel SOME things from the body hastily, but the soul? It seemed that most in ancient times would rather be on the safe side. After all, in those days someone who was sneezing because of illness (as opposed to getting a snort full of dust by accident) usually did die, thanks to the lack of advanced medical care. So when someone sneezed it was as if people were put on alert- “this person might die.”

This idea- the soul leaving the body via a sneeze- was latter added on to with the idea that a demon or devil was able to enter the body right after a sneeze; likely the origin of this was during times when people still associated physical ills with demonic possession. A covering of the mouth would serve to both keep the soul in place and block any demon blitz, and the blessings of those nearby were added in for good measure.

During the time of the plague when someone sneezed it could mean death- for those nearby. It is thought that saying “Gesunheit” back then was more a wish for good health for the person saying it, hoping they hadn’t just contracted their death.

Final Thoughts

One fun local superstition in some parts of Germany has a sneeze occurring as a serendipitous affirmation of whatever was just said. If person A was complaining about the weather and person B sneezed, it would be seen as an agreement about the bad weather, and person A would say “You got that right!”.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
The interesting thing about a sneeze is that it "slows" down the heart for that moment, very, very unperceivably I may add!
James V - 29-Apr-11 @ 10:36 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Candy
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    black arent evil there god giving creechers of this planet evil is killing ppl ppl killing ppl are killers and evil demons i seen
    20 November 2017
  • GafB
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    @Linda - you may just live in houses that have a lot of crows around. But it's certainly unusual.
    20 November 2017
  • Linda
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    A couple of months ago I was in my living room when I heard a strange noise I opened my door to find a black…
    18 November 2017
  • Karen
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    If a black bird with white belly long tail flew inside your house what do this mean.
    2 November 2017
  • Milly
    Re: Bloody Mary
    @Pumpkinhead - they were told at a time when it was easy to frighten people and when people would believe in anything. For instance, witches were just…
    2 November 2017
  • Suse
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    @Insightisright - that's nice. My black cat runs to meet my car, it knows the sound of my engine. Perhaps this cat knows the…
    2 November 2017
  • Pumpkinhead
    Re: Temporary Tattoos can Scar
    I use temporary tattoos a lot and I have never got a scar from them. I see people wear them all the time and they don't get scars…
    2 November 2017
  • Pumpkinhead
    Re: Bloody Mary
    I was told that you had to say her name three times. I don't believe in urban legends, myths, superstitions, and old wives tales. I believe that they…
    2 November 2017
  • Insightisright
    Re: A Black Cat Crossing Your Path
    I have to drive down an alley way to access the parking spot I have where I live. There is this really adorable young black cat…
    2 November 2017
  • AmyG
    Re: Do Birds Flying Into A Home Equate To Death?
    @Sal - I hope he wasn't looking after it for a friend LOL.
    31 October 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the TimelessMyths website. Please read our Disclaimer.