So to set the stage, my roommate Christine and I were having a conversation. The two of us frequently have awesome conversations. By awesome, I mean sometimes we have really personal, honest, full of the Word conversations. And by awesome, I also mean we can talk about some of the most obscure, random, seemingly mundane yet ridiculous things you can imagine, and still be immensely entertained. Frequently these conversations revolve around grammar and language.
So I was having a conversation with Christine, and I happened to sneeze. Christine, being an extremely wonderful and by no means impolite person, told me, “Bless you.”
This started me thinking. No one’s sure why people started saying, “Bless you,” to a sneezing person, but there have been plenty of superstitions attributed to it from various eras. Whether it was expressing a wish to keep the devil out of the sneezer, or to keep the sneezer’s soul in their own body, or that their heart resumed beating after the sneeze, “Bless you” apparently used to express a desire to see the sneezer avoid pretty intense disaster.
However, these days we don’t think any of those things by saying “Bless you”, or “gesundheit”, which is German for the same thing — but as a non-German speaker I am amused by the fact that it sounds more like the sneeze itself than the blessing it’s intended to convey. But I digress.
The point is, nowadays, we say “Bless you” because it’s just the polite thing to do. It doesn’t mean much. It’s just the standard sneeze response. So in essence, when we tell someone “Bless you,” we’re basically saying, “Oh, hey, you just sneezed.”
Christine knows a good idea when she hears one, so for the rest of the evening she has been quick to politely tell me, “Hey, you sneezed again.”