This is Dave who belongs to Andrew and Emily. He visited us yesterday. We discovered that as well as enjoying bike rides he enjoys rooting round damp flower beds and barking at pigeons. He also barked when anyone sneezed. Perhaps he was saying: ‘Bless you’.
‘Bless you’ or ‘God bless you’ – wishing people well – has been around for centuries, but when you sneeze…?
‘Bless You’ is supposed to come from ‘Black Death’ times. Sneezing was a sure sign you had the plague; ‘God bless you’ was a prayer that you wouldn’t die from the plague.
Some thought that when you sneezed either your soul escaped or a demon escaped; you say ‘God Bless You’ so either your soul returns or the demon stays out.
Wonderful Google tells me:
The first text that mentions ‘blessing’ a sneeze is Erasmus’s ‘Familiar Colloquies’(1526). In the section ‘Forms of well-wishing’: ‘To one that Sneezes. May it be lucky and happy to you. God keep you. May it be for your Health. God bless it to you.’
John Aubrey in ‘Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaism’ (1688) – a collection of customs and traditions: “We have a Custome, that when one sneezes, every one els putts off his hatt, and bowes, and cries God bless ye Sir. I have heard, or read a story that many yeares since, that Sneezing was an Epidemical Disease and very mortal, which caused this yet received Custome.”
I’m musing on a blessing of St Paul: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…’ (Romans14:13)
Praying for God’s blessing… for:
- Hope – in times of anxiety, despair and fear
- Joy – in times of sadness, grief and loneliness
- Peace – in times of unrest, uncertainty and anger
- Trust – in times of cynicism, lies and fake-news
Perhaps Dave was thinking of St Paul when he barked, ‘Bless You’.