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Why should you wish for health when a person sneezes: versions of the tradition

Maria ShevchukLife
Sneezing has been attributed to various problems, from illness to loss of soul

Etiquette experts debate whether to wish health to a person who has just sneezed. Some argue that it is more polite to ignore such trifles. However, people continue to say, "Be healthy" after every sneeze. But have you ever wondered where this custom might have come from?

OBOZREVATEL asked about its history. It turns out that this is a very old and deeply rooted tradition. For a long time, people did not know the nature of this phenomenon and therefore performed small protective rituals during it just in case.

One of the legends about the creation of the world says that God, having created Adam, breathed life into him, but decided to make him mortal. And at that moment, Adam sneezed, exhaling an immortal particle of spirit. After that, people began to sneeze only once in their lives - before death. And so it was until the time of St. James. When he sneezed and realized that his death had come, he asked God not to take him away. And God agreed, but instead gave people old age and disease. So people stopped being afraid of sneezing but began to wish each other health after every sneeze.

Another legend links the fear of sneezing to the plague that plagued Europe in the Middle Ages. Then people began to consider this action a harbinger of a terrible disease and began to say to each other: "God helps you" to protect themselves. And the person who sneezed had to say it as well.

The Slavs also associated sneezing with the risk of trouble. Thus, the Novgorod chronicles contain stories about a superstition that claimed that when a child sneezes, a devil tries to possess him or her. To protect the child, parents had to say to the child: "Be healthy, guardian angel!" In this way, they protected not only the child but also his guardian angel.

In ancient Rome, sneezing was considered the moment when the soul could fly out of the body with a sharp exhalation. That's why the Romans wished each other: "May the gods put your soul back in!"

Asian traditions attributed an even more bizarre context to sneezing. It was believed that the moment a person sneezes, a judge from the afterlife puts that person's name on a list of those who must be taken away soon. To avoid this, people tried their best to hold back their sneezes. Which is completely unhelpful and almost impossible.

Scottish tradition, on the contrary, says that only stupid children cannot sneeze. Therefore, young parents have always looked forward to their baby's first sneeze.

In today's world, wishes for someone who sneezes vary somewhat from country to country. For example, in English-speaking countries, people wish for God's blessing, Slavs and Germans continue to wish for health, and Italians wish for happiness. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, it is customary to bow towards the person who sneezes and clap their hands.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you when folk beliefs allow stroking a pregnant woman's belly and when not.

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