Why you should wish for health when a person sneezes: versions of the tradition
Etiquette experts debate whether you should wish someone who has just sneezed well. Some argue that it is more polite to ignore such trifles. However, people continue to say, "Bless you" after every sneeze. But have you ever wondered where this custom might have come from?
OBOZREVATEL took an interest in its history. It turns out that this is a very old and deep-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. This was the case until the time of St James. When he sneezed and realised that his death had come, he asked God not to take him away. And God agreed, but 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 connects the fear of sneezing with 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 help you" to protect themselves. And the one who sneezed had to say it as well.
The Slavs also associated sneezing with the risk of trouble. For example, Novgorod chronicles contain stories about superstitions that claimed that when a child sneezes, a devil tries to enter the child. To protect the child, parents should say to him or her: "Bless you, guardian angel!". In this way, they were protecting 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 hide your soul back!"
Asian traditions attributed an even more bizarre context to sneezing. It was believed that the moment a person sneezes, a judge from the afterlife adds that person's name to the list of those who will soon be taken away. To avoid this, people tried their best to restrain sneezing. Which is actually not at all useful and almost impossible.
Scottish tradition, on the contrary, states 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 slightly 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 in the direction of someone who sneezes and clap his or her hands.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you when folk beliefs allow you to stroke a pregnant woman's belly and when not.
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