Superstitions and traditions surrounding the sneeze have a long history.
Ancients from around the world have believed that a sneeze holds significant messages, of either danger or health, depending on the time and culture.
Arabs traditionally bow in response to a sneeze. Germans say “Gesundheit!”, which means “Your health!”
Ancient Romans responded with “Good luck to you!” and “Congratulations!”
During a nasty bout of plague in sixth-century Europe, when a sneeze often accompanied severe pain and death, Pope Gregory the Great demanded that everyone wish the sneezer well with a blessing from God Almighty.
“God bless you!” was the ordered response to overhearing another’s sneeze.
If no one was around when the sneeze occurred, the sneezer was to beseech the good Lord himself with a loud “God help me!”
That plague came and went, as did others, and science finally caught up with religion and explained the reasons for sneezing in more concrete terms, but the phrase stuck and continues to be used today.