When someone sneezes, it’s almost a reflex for most people to say, “Bless you” – or “Gesundheit.” But in one classroom, saying “Bless you” got kids’ grades lowered. Experts aren’t sure where the “Bless you” custom came from – but it’s been around for nearly 2000 years.
Some say it’s because sneezing was a symptom of bubonic plague. So, blessing someone was thought to protect them from the disease. Others point to an ancient belief that a sneeze ejected your soul from your body. And that a blessing was the only way to get it back. Whatever its origin, many people compare it to saying “excuse me” when you step on somebody’s foot.
But at a high school in Northern California, one teacher believes that talking of any kind is disruptive - and takes away time from class. So, he began docking student scores if they said, “bless you” in class.
Some parents were angry, saying that his rule was anti-religious. Others were upset that a common courtesy was labeled disruptive. But the teacher defended his decision – saying this isn’t a dispute over courtesy. He believes the students were sneezing on purpose – just to disrupt class. The school district is investigating the situation. And we’ll keep you posted on the progress.