Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Bless You"

Is it just me, or is it terribly annoying when someone says "Bless You" whenever you sneeze?  I realize it is a social courtesy of politeness, but is it really necessary?  What is the purpose of blessing someone for a natural bodily function?  How come we don't have social niceties for when someone burps, or coughs, or farts?

I'm not necessarily offended when someone says "Bless You."  I know they are simply trying to be polite.  But it does get old having to thank someone for giving me an undesired and unnecessary blessing.  Does anyone else feel this way?

Why do we do it?

A quick internet search revealed a few possible origins for this practice. One of which was the bubonic plague in which a sneeze meant you were probably infected and a "bless you" was used in hopes of warding off the disease.

Another possible origin is the folk belief that a sneeze open up a person's soul and would therefore allow evil spirits to enter the body. "Bless You" was believed to be a sort of shield against evil.

Of course now, thanks to science, we know that a "Bless You" does not stop an illness from spreading.  And religion has always had irrational beliefs that have no evidence that they actually work or are even necessary.

Whatever the source, it is an unnecessary social pleasantry that I would personally love to see disappear.



Brad said...

I totally agree with you. It's not necessary, though if someone says it, I do realize that they mean well.

A friend of mine, with whom I work with, and is atheistic as I, would sometime say "Zeus bless" instead of "God bless". We both get a kick out of it.

windsprite said...

Oh, you're back again. That was quite a long time you left...

Interesting. I never thought about that and never realized it as religious. But I'm not sure if I think it should disappear. Sometimes you need to accept, that a part of our culture (of every culture!) is built on religion, even the american. And in many languages there are Greetings like Adieu, Adios, Grüß Gott and others that also have to do with god.
Even goodbye in English. It's a short form of "God be with you" and it's meant to bless the other, so on his further way nothing may harm him. So actually you'll never get around god of you're living in a chistian, muslim or jewish culture, it has become of a part of culture.
How would you say goodbye (yeah, do you have another word in English for it?) if you don't want to talk about god?
Of course religion sometimes is ridiculous, but I think you also have to accept, that you need a bit of culture (although I do not believe that culture is impossible without religion) and religion is a big part of culture, you need to deal with, without hating it away. Because then you're not better than religious fanatics that want to forbid talk about sex. I think, it's not bad to sometime pray, even though you don't believe. It's not crime. (Have you ever read the bible closely? Even in the oh-so-holy book there are a lot of sex scenes, those, where a man has more than one wife and where daughter sleep with their father. It's some kind of paradox)

Heather said...

Is saying "excuse me" a social nicety? like with a burp or fart? Or is that just manners? IDK. It is weird if you think about it...

On another note- I've been addicted to a pod cast lately called Infants on Thrones. I literally can't get enough. I go through like 3 a day. Do you like pod casts or listen to them? More specifically the one I mentioned?

Unknown said...

The "bless you" annoys me because it is completely pointless, though it is a [bad] habit that is part of culture. I try to sneeze in private when I can so I don't have people saying it to me.

Hakam Adam said...

I'd love to have something else to say, but haven't been able to think of an alternative (if we agree that just sitting in silence while someone exnasicates is uncomfortable and possible to be seen as rude, and "are you ok?" is also out of place).

Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

come on