Is it Rude to Not Say Bless You?

“Bless you” is a common reactionary phrase to say to someone when they sneeze. 

Legend has it, this saying began as a literal way to ensure people’s hearts started beating again after they sneeze (as people used to believe the heart actually stopped for a second when you sneeze.

Today, however, we know that the heart does not stop when you sneeze, though it may beat slower for a second or two before resuming its normal rhythm.

The question we’re looking at today is whether or not it is rude to not say bless you, in these modern times.

Read on below and learn the truth of the matter!

Is it Rude to Not Say Bless You?

Depending on where you’re from, people may still say “bless you” afterward religiously. That, however, isn’t always the case all around the world.

Now that we know our hearts don’t actually stop when we sneeze, it isn’t as important as it once was to say bless you after someone sneezes.

Saying blessing you when someone sneezes, of course, is still considered a highly polite thing to do.

How Rude Is it?

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On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, not saying bless you after someone sneezes rates 3

Saying bless you after someone sneezes isn’t as crucial as it once was, as far as general etiquette is concerned, hence the low rating on our rude meter.

That said, folks who do choose to say bless you habitually may find it odd that you don’t do the same.

In other words, the region you live in and how you were raised has a big impact on whether or not you say bless you often, whether you find it rude or not when others don’t say bless you.

Why isn’t it Rude?

Not saying bless you when someone sneezes may be considered rude these days in certain countries, or churches, but, generally speaking, the world has moved on from this saying being mandatory in order to be polite.

Today, it is just as polite to keep silent when someone sneezes as it is to say bless you.

The fact of the matter is that this saying used to be something of a superstition (people believed it helped the sneezer’s heart to start back up if you said god bless you).

Saying bless you is no longer necessary as we have a better medical understanding of what actually happens when you sneeze (your heart slows down for a second or two but doesn’t stop like people used to believe).

Common Questions

Is it offensive to say bless you?

Generally speaking, saying bless you to someone (regardless of their religious orientation) is not considered offensive. 

Most cultures consider someone saying bless you as a polite and thoughtful thing to say, even if it is unnecessary or they don’t believe in the same God as you (or any God).

What else to say rather than bless you?

There are countless ways to react to someone who sneezes, rather than saying bless you. 

For example, you can ask the sneezer if they need a tissue, you can ask them if everything came out alright, or you can tell them salud.

What countries don’t say bless you after sneezing?

Many larger Asian nations don’t bother with sayings like bless you or salud after people around them sneeze. 

These countries include Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Vietnam. That said, you aren’t likely to be seen as rude if you do tell someone to bless you in these places.