by Debbie Walker

The next thing you usually hear is ‘God Bless You’. Why? Where did that get started and why? This was my curiosity today. As often happens I open my laptop computer and start with the Google files and, ta-da, there it is, the answer on the website of Wikipedia. (I find answers to a lot of my questions there.)

It is okay if you decide to add this to your pile of “Useless Information”. I won’t be offended if you smile a little at the time.

As I said, I got this information from Wikipedia, read and chuckle:

What is the origin of saying Bless You?

In Rome, the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe. Sneezing was one of the plague’s main symptoms and is believed that Pope Gregory I suggested that a tiny prayer in form of saying, “God Bless You” after a sneeze would protect the person from death.

What are alternatives to saying Bless You?

Say “Gesundheit,” which is German for “{to your} health”. Say “Salute!” which is Italian for “{to your} health.” Offer a tissue if you have one handy.

There are a few different explanations about the origin of “God Bless You”. In the earliest days, it was deeply rooted in superstition. A sneeze was sometimes thought to be the body’s way of trying to rid itself of evil spirits. In that case it was a way to try to provide a protection, or a good luck charm, against the evil spirits leaving or inhabiting the body.

Is it true that your heart stops when you sneeze?

When you sneeze, the intrathoracic pressure in your body momentarily increases. This will decrease the blood flow back to the heart. The heart compensates for this by changing its regular heartbeat momentarily to adjust. However, the electrical activity of the heart does not stop during the sneeze.

Has anyone died sneezing?

Some injuries from holding in a sneeze can be profoundly serious, such as ruptured brain aneurysms, ruptured throat and collapsed lung.

Do you kill brain cells when you sneeze?

No. It is said the increase in pressure from a sneeze is so brief and slight that it would be enough to cause brain cell death.

Can you sneeze with your eyes open?

If you sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes will fly out from the force. It would be impossible for your eyes to pop out because of the number of natural attachments that keep the eye inside the socket.

Interesting facts: (?) (the following is from Everyday Mysteries)

Sneezes are an automatic reflex that can’t be stopped once sneezing starts.

Sneezes can travel at a speed of 100 miles per hour and the wet spray can radiate five feet.

People don’t sneeze when they are asleep because the nerves involved in nerve reflex are also resting.

Between 18 percent and 35 percent of the population sneezes when exposed to sudden bright light.

I’m just curious if you ever question something you have said or done for years? I would love to know. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with questions or comments. I’ll be waiting. Have a great week.


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