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My secret dislike

 
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I don't want to say 'Bless You' everytime someone sneezes. My office is currently having a sneeze-fest, with sneezes going off everywhere like GRBs. And inevitably, each sneeze has several associated Bless Yous, coming from the vicinity of the sneezer.
Once I was talking to this woman, at a time when there were no blessers in the vicinity. She sneezed. And I doggedly resisted saying Bless You, and tried to continue with the conversation. Before replying to me, she says 'Oh, {sniffle} Bless Me'. I just smiled.
Don't get me wrong. I am a sincere believer in the Sarvepi Sukhinah Santu principle. I just don't care about this whole Bless You business. Is this just in America, or has this syndrome spread to other parts of the world?
 
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Legend has it the practice dates from the great bubonic plagues in Europe, when a sneeze in public was taken as a sign of possibly going down for the count. 'Bless you' (as in "good luck neighbor!") was said, so it's told, and the blesser quickly got on his way.
By come counts, 1 of every 3 Europeans died in that epidemic. Repetition being the mother of learning, it was a well-learned custom.
 
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May everybody be happy. May everybody be free from disease.
May everybody have good luck. May none fall on evil days.

I like that
 
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Adding to Michael's post - the idea seems to have been that a sneeze indicated that a person's soul was attempting to leave the body (breath being associated with the soul). Saying "bless you" is an attempt to forestall this event - or, failing that, a way of saying "have a nice trip".
For myself, because of religious reasons (or rather, lack thereof) I prefer to say "Gesundheit". If someone is unfamiliar with the word, I simply explain it's German for "stop your damn sneezing." Actually of course it's "health", as in, "I wish good health for you", and ultimately it still derives from superstitious hogwash - but at least it's less overt than "bless you", and seems to satisfy the folks around me.
[ January 13, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Jim Yingst
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After a bit of googling I came across the following list of suggested alternatives:
"Cover your mouth next time."
"Excuse you."
"Ewwww..."
"Ugh, what's that on your hand?"
"May your imaginary God bless you."
"Tic-tac?"
 
Michael Ernest
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Another popular one I'm surprised a search doesn't reveal:
"You're sooooo good-looking!"
 
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In Russia we say somethink like "Be healthy!" This expression is close to the typical toast "to our health" which is used to culturally elevate and justify an act of gulping a glass of vodka. For this reason, it evokes strong positive feelings, so I never seen anybody opposed to saying ""Be healthy!" when the situation requires. There may be some hope sounding through these words, I do not know...
 
Nanhesru Ningyake
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How about saying:
"I love that sound you make"
"Encore!"
"Can you do that with your eyes open?"
Afaik, we don't have an equivalent in India. However, some folks back home consider a single sneeze unlucky/inauspicious. It has to be followed in quick succession by atleast one more. Often there's a great sense of anticipation in a room where a single sneeze is heard. Sometimes folks whose noses decide one sneeze is good enough fake a second just to stay lucky. Those who can manage a barrage of rapid-fire sneezes are undoubtedly the luckiest.
 
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Or, how about what was common where I grew up (the American midwest -- not a German-speaking country...)
gesundheit (g-zntht) interj.
Used to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed.
[fr German, health, from Middle High German gesuntheit, from gesunt, healthy, from Old High German gisunt.]
Kyle
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
In Russia we say somethink like "Be healthy!" ...For this reason, it evokes strong positive feelings, so I never seen anybody opposed to saying ""Be healthy!" when the situation requires.


Hmm. I have. As a foreigner in Russia, I've had some Russians tell me it's OK to say bud'/te zdorov/a/y upon the occasion of a sneeze, and I've plenty others tell me not to -- that it was unnecessary, old-fashioned, etc. (if you'll pardon the descent into the lowbrow -- I've even had a Russian tell me "you pretend not to notice when someone farts, so do the same when they sneeze.")
Could never sort out whether there was some class/eduction/rural vs. urban element or whether it was a matter of personal preference. My rule was to only use "bud' zdorov" with people I'd heard saying it.
 
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My favorite response when somebody covers their mouth and sneezes is: "Good catch!".
 
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Originally posted by Nanhesru Ningyake:
Afaik, we don't have an equivalent in India.


I have heard of "Jug Jug Jeeyo" (have a long life ??) when someone sneezes!
 
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Afaik, we don't have an equivalent in India
HEY!!! What part of India are you talking abt.... :roll:
From the place I come (also in India), they say "Chi-ran-gee-va" (Some one who lives long).
Its pretty similar to "Bless you" here or the "Jug Jug Jeeyo" (have a long life).
Also, Do Americans say this when an younger person sneezes or doesn't matter...
Like say the Child sneezes and the Dad/Mom say "Bless You". On the other hand if the Dad/Mom sneezes, does the child say "Bless You".
Back in India (atleast what I said) its only said by the elders when a younger person sneezes.
- satya......always wanted to ask this but never had an opportunity.
 
Jim Yingst
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In the US (and probably most of the Western world, I'm guessing) age is irrelevant to the custom. It doesn't matter who says it, as long as someone does.
 
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My Grandpa in India(Gujrat) used to say our local Deity's Name (Jalaram) everytime he sneezed. According to him that was another excuse to remember God.
 
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You could also go with the Spanish-speaking custom and say �salud!
 
Michael Ernest
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Bless you all.
 
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Madhav Lakkapragada:
Afaik, we don't have an equivalent in India
HEY!!! What part of India are you talking abt.... :roll:


Yes Thats right. In our place in INDIA. Elders say "CHIRANGEEVA" which means "Long Live" when some one sneezes.
 
Nanhesru Ningyake
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>HEY!!! What part of India are you talking abt
Well, my 'afaik' gives me immunity I am from Bangalore, btw.
Continuing with this discussion of the socio-cultural nuances of pre- and post-sneeze utterances by the sneezer and the sneezees, I would like to bring to the observation of the table... what the hell am I talking?
Lemme try again. Tintin, that's interesting - in my family too, the elders who sneeze usually follow up with an inventory of God names, like Rama, Krishna, Vasudeva, etc.
And afaik, in India, all blessings are one-way, from the elders to the youngsters. Any naysayers to that? That should explain why the Bless You school of thought never caught on in India - the English missionaries' position on this was that the local populace were intractable; and refused to acknowledge blessings from some young whippersnapper everytime they sneezed.
 
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I too, dislike saying 'bless you' when someone sneezes. Yet I sometimes belie my principles and say it because I'm afraid people will think I'm rude if I don't . As has been explained by others posters, it is a bunch of superstitious, or at any rate medieval, nonsense. But mostly it is parrot behaviour: everyone says it because everyone else says it and nobody stops and wonders why they say it.
Where I live, as in many other parts of the world, some people say something like 'enjoy your food' everytime they sit down for a meal. That too drives me crazy, though I realize this is a little irrational.
 
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