What do you say when someone sneezes?
In the U.S., the common responses are “God bless you”, “bless you”, or the occasional “gesundheit”.
But what about in China, or Spain, or the Philippines?
Well to find the answer to that, we turn to good old Wikipedia.
In non-English-speaking cultures, words referencing good health or a long life are often used instead of “bless you,” though some also use references to God.
In East Asian cultures such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese cultures, there is no customary response to a sneeze and it is customary to say nothing at all.
The Wikipedia article lists the responses from over 90 countries and cultures, and I thought I’d share some of the more unusual ones:
China (if they respond at all): “Drink more water” or “May you live for a hundred years”
Denmark: “May it help”
Netherlands (if a person has sneezed three times): “The weather will be nice tomorrow.”
Spain: “Jesus” after the first sneeze, “Mary” after the second, and “Joseph” after the third
Vietnam (for children): “Rice and salt.”
and my two favorites:
Australian aborigines: “You have released nose water.”
Philippines: “Hey! I took a bath!”
Reading the Wikipedia article reminded me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry tried to get people to use a new phrase when someone sneezed, “You are so good looking.” Here’s a clip from that episode:
And then a few years ago a couple of my sons and their friends tried to create a new response to when someone sneezes:
I think I like that one best of all; there’s nothing like being told how great you are after a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa.
Wikipedia is pretty awesome too.