This Day in History: February 16th- Bless You
This Day In History: February 16, 600 C.E.
“Bless You!” is the knee-jerk response of most of us in the Western world when someone sneezes. We say it without thought or hesitation, and sometimes dozens of times a day during flu or allergy season. And every time we do, we’re obeying the edict a pope made on February 16, 600 C.E.
The pope in Question was Gregory I, who ascended the papal throne in 590 as the bubonic plague was cutting a horrible swathe through Europe (the disease was the reason a new pope was needed in the first place). Pope Gregory called for processions and unceasing prayers to beg for God’s protection and intercession.
Since sneezing was thought to be an early sign of the plague, it was taken very seriously. If someone sneezed, blessings were heaped upon them in the hopes that they would avoid the dreaded disease. “God bless you” became a common preventative measure against the plague, and Pope Gregory made it official on February 16, 600 C.E.
Although the advent of the plague formalized the practice of blessing a person after they sneezed, the practice itself originated long before this edict in a variety of cultures. For instance, the Romans said (translated), “May Jupiter preserve you.” They would also say “Salve,” which means “good health to you.” After a sneeze, the ancient Greeks would wish one another “long life.”
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:
- The Curious Case of Sun Sneezing
- Where the Word “Sneeze” Came From and the Origin of “Nothing to Sneeze At”
- Why We Say Gesundheit When Someone Sneezes
- What Those Nasty White Chunks That Sometimes Come From Your Throat Are
- The Fascinating Origin of the Word “Abracadabra”
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I wish to quote two mutually conflicting passages from the article, separated from each other by a paragraph:
“‘Bless You!’ is the knee-jerk response of most of us in the Western world when someone sneezes. We say it without thought or hesitation, and sometimes dozens of times a day during flu or allergy season. And every time we do, we’re obeying the edict a pope made on February 16, 600 [A.D.] … ‘God bless you’ became a common preventative measure against the plague, and Pope Gregory made it official on February 16, 600 [A.D.].”
So which was it, dear author? Did the pope ask the people to say, “Bless you,” or “GOD bless you”? As you well know, it was “GOD bless you” … but what you seem not to know is that it remained “GOD bless you” for many, many centuries — in fact, until very, very recently, when people in the “West” started becoming “politically correct” wimps.
When I was a kid (born 1951), everybody ALWAYS said, “God bless you.” Totally unheard was the pathetic and meaningless phrase, “Bless you.” Think about it … Just what in the heck do those words mean? Do they mean, “Bless yourself” — an impossible thing to do? What is the “subject” of the sentence, “Bless you”? There IS none! One MUST openly call upon God to bless someone with good health, because only He can do it.
Unfortunately, the ultra-left wing minority in society (who [disastrously] dominate 90% of the media and academia — and even more than half of the pulpits), began, about a quarter century ago, to fool many of us normal folks — such as the author of this article — into being afraid/embarrassed/ashamed to mention the name of God (things related to him) in public. They successfully pretended that there were lots and lots of atheists and agnostics among us — folks who were being offended by hearing the phrase, “GOD bless you.” They counted on average people being too lazy to look into this matter and to determine that, in reality, VERY FEW people (the under 5% who were atheists/agnostics — or who believed in God, but hated Him) were actually offended by it!
In the 1990s, I noticed that, because of the pernicious influence of the powerful leftists bearing their “megaphones,” some weak-kneed people began to say simply, “Bless you.” Then others, after hearing it, mistakenly said to themselves, “Wow, there really must be a lot of people who don’t believe in God, so I too will stop saying, ‘God bless you,’ from now on.” [God’s hellish enemy was “thrilled” to see all of this happening, you can be sure!]
Another example of falling for the political correct nonsense (of the atheists, agnostics, and anti-Christians) is the repeated use, in this article, of the abbreviation, “C.E.” (“in the Common Era”) in place of “A.D.” (Anno Domini — “in the Year of [our] Lord [Jesus]”). Using brackets, I corrected this error when I quoted the two passages, above.
In closing, I urge all readers — and the author — to re-institute the practice of saying, “GOD bless you,” when someone sneezes! Thank you.