How To Respond To a Sneeze in Every Country.

Sometimes, it’s the minor details that offer the most intriguing insights when exploring a new language and culture. I’m still amazed by how the Hebrew term for potato directly translates to “Earth apple,” or how in Dutch, a glove is referred to as a “hand-shoe.” Additionally, the diverse expressions used across different cultures regarding how to respond to a sneeze, as highlighted in a recent comprehensive infographic by Expedia, are equally captivating. While concern for the sneezer’s health appears universally, there’s a divide regarding whether a sneeze signifies good or bad health ahead. Similarly, cultural perceptions of divine intervention vary; in some countries, sneezes prompt blessings, while in others, seeking forgiveness from a deity is customary. It’s remarkable how such seemingly trivial occurrences like sneezing can carry such significant implications across cultures.

1. Africa

2. South Anerica

The origins of the custom of responding to sneezes are varied and steeped in superstition. In ancient times, some cultures viewed sneezing as the expulsion of a demon from the body. Although modern attitudes are more relaxed, many responses to sneezing still carry traces of superstition.

One theory suggests that the practice dates back to the 6th century, during the bubonic plague outbreak in Europe, when Pope Gregory the Great encouraged the phrase “God bless you” as a safeguard against the deadly disease. Another hypothesis proposes that the Ancient Greeks and Romans interpreted sneezing as a sign of well-being and would offer the blessing “Jupiter preserve you” as a gesture of goodwill.

3. North America

4. Asia

Regardless of its origins, the tradition of acknowledging sneezes persists across cultures. These varied responses offer insights into each continent’s colonial history and the spread of languages worldwide. In Europe, many responses are in the native language of each nation; for example, in Germany, people say “gesundheit!” meaning “health.” Similarly, Spanish-speaking countries across North and South America use “salud,” a reflection of colonial influence.

In Australia and Africa, the diverse range of sneeze responses can be traced back to colonization. However, some Asian countries, such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia, have no customary response to sneezing. In Islamic culture, sneezing is viewed as a lightening of the mind, prompting praise to Allah.

5. Australia

6. europe

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