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  1. #11


    From my perspective, I care more about how I am interpreted than how I intend something to come across. It is the same as with my editing. If there is a word that could be ambiguous for the reader, then it is better for the writer to use a word that correctly conveys their intended meaning. The writer and the editor work to get a story across correctly for the reader, and as a speaker, when I speak, I am working to get my meaning across correctly for the hearer.

    Yes there might be multiple definitions for the word bless [although in combination with you in "bless you" that meaning may differ], but even if it said with secular intention, I prefer to think "how is it going to be interpreted"?

    I personally would rather not go around saying "bless you" and have those that would take it with religious connotations getting that from it.

    My stance is also influenced by the fact we have some highly religious people in our family that "bless you" at us or our kids all the freaking time (saying goodnight, goodbye, in greeting cards, and on and on...).

    For what we say ("excuse you") when someone in our house sneezes, I am not so worried about wishing them good health. We use it more for to excuse their unhygienic action if they don't excuse themselves ("excuse me"). So I am trying to teach/remind them that if they sneeze they should say "excuse me" to be polite.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

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  3. #12


    To us it's just as ordinarily polite to say "bless you" as it is to say "Gesundheit" because the "bless you" isn't being offered in earnest as a prayer or a religious rite (no one says it and then sprinkles you with Holy Water or mumbles incantations). Bless you in this context just means something along the lines of wishing you good health.
    I can't imagine even interpreting it religiously.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

  4. #13


    I had secular upbringing but in our family we always said "Bless you" when someone sneezed. We also said things like "oh my god!", "thank god!", "god forbid", etc. They never had any religious connotations, just figures of speech. I agree, it's the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter - you can do it as cultural tradition, no strings attached.
    Also, I was quite nervous as a child, when I sneezed and there was no one to say "Bless you", so I would say it to myself (but I think it has more to do with the Leprechaun movies than religion )

  5. #14


    I guess my point is that, whether it’s “Merry Christmas”, or “Bless You”, if there is a better phrase to use, it should be used, even if you dont “mean” the blessing or Jesus bits.
    Is it better to say “Happy Holidays”, or “Merry Christmas?” Even no strings attached, the latter says “xtians first, then other people could be included in the unmbrella”.
    Why NOT move away from a religious-based response to a sneeze? If “Salud” is just as polite and acceptable (and easier to say than Gehzunheit), wouldnt that be a better choice to teach our kids?
    Im an atheist, and use all sorts of religious references in my expletives... all “without meaning it”. Yet when I instruct my kids on cussing ediquitte (this is mostly “dont in public, use these words instead), I dont use those words.

    If its easy enough to switch from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”, why not change the sneezing thing as well? Why even single out sneezing as a special bodily function? (nobody blesses anyone for coughs, burps, or farts.) American convention says we need to respond to sneezes, so why not use something non-religious?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #15


    True, blessing someone when they sneeze is a weird etiquette norm. It grew out of outdated beliefs that our ancestors held (that sickness is something demon-induced). I also think that it might be even pagan, dating before Christianity.
    Anyway, I either say "Bless you" just because it's an automatic response, or, if I have time to think if it's appropriate, I just let the poor sneezing thing be and don't say anything at all. Actually, in some cultures they treat sneezes on par with coughs, burps, or farts and the most polite way to respond is to act as if nothing has happened. Why not adopt this approach if we want to rule out superstitions altogether?

  7. #16


    Well Holidays in my mind still invokes religion and many religious people don't actually celebrate a holiday at Christmas time. I mean the Jewish in this country came up with Hannukah as a way to have something to celebrate when many others have Christmas, but it isn't one of their High Holidays and isn't really celebrated in Israel. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists they don't have any Holiday around Christmas.

    I'm just being a devil's advocate (no religious connotation intended), but I don't think there is any term that doesn't invoke religion and can also exclude many religious people if they are celebrating a Holiday. I mean don't get me wrong, I always get Holiday cards that say Happy Holidays as to not offend anyone and I certainly don't believe there is a war on Christmas - as that is a completely manufactured farce. But I think that things just evolve away from their original religious context and just become phrases. I say oh my god all the time and it is certainly just a phrase that I use and if I were truly religious I wouldn't use it because it is breaking one of the 10 commandants.
    DS16 with ASD, DD12 and DS10

  8. #17
    Senior Member Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2015


    We say usually "Gesundheit". We are a German-American family, so that's what I grew up with.

    As far as the connotation of "bless you", my son (he was about 10) didn't realize that it had any besides sneezing. We were going through a drive-thru on vacation in the South. After we paid, the girl at the window said "bless you". As we drove off, my son asked, "Why did she say bless you? Nobody sneezed!"

  9. #18


    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Im not really as adamently opposed to religious originated speech, especially routine polite phrases, as came across in my earlier posts.

    Lol and “bless his heart, he tries to be a good president” has a bit of sarcasm, and Ive seen “bless” used that way a lot in the South - meaning the opposite of anything positive. If youre not religious, you really shouldnt use it, and if you are, its a pretty un-christian thing to say / feel / intend.

    Even if you say its secularized by not saying “God Bless You”, is it you who is doing the blessing? “Be thou blessèd, for thou hast sneezed. I shall anoint thee as a sign of my favors...” (Really its the sneezer doing the anointing.)

    Why not just say “Salud” or the long german word for it.... or some other equivalent to acknowledge and send well-wishes?
    One of the other moms said 'Salud' when her son sneezed at one of the baby-and-me storytime classes at the library that I attended last week. I thought she was saying 'Salut' and it really confused me. *SNEEZE* Hello! *SNEEZE* Hello!

    I instinctively say 'Bless you' because that was ingrained in me. I'll start saying 'Gesundheit' or 'Salud' from now on. Or, the slightly snarky...*SNEEZE* For Science! *SNEEZE* For Science!

  10. #19


    We are like MiriamHoki and say Gesundheit too. I am German/American and we speak German at home. It definitely gives people a reason to start a conversation though.
    ~ Kimmy

    “ Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” ~ Maria Montessori

  11. #20


    We're never tired of saying that

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