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As Long As You’re in My Classroom, You’ll Abide By My Rules: No Blessing Anyone!

This 2009 photograph captured a sneeze in prog...

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California teacher Steve Cuckovich received a lot of media attention last week for his classroom ban on saying “Bless you,”  after someone sneezes. He practically promised that the (now reversed by the school) ban had nothing to do with religion. Which is curious because he openly offered up his personal frustration with the used of the phrase, because he finds it to be an outdated traditional, lacking present day usefulness.

‘When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body,’ Cuckovich said. ‘So they were saying, ‘god bless you’ for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, I said what you’re doing doesn’t really make any sense anymore.’

A bit of history on the phrase is as such,

“The practice or tradition of blessing a sneeze dates back to 77AD. The custom originally began as an actual blessing by Pope Gregory in 590AD. An outbreak of the bubonic plague was closing in on Rome and sneezing was thought to be an early symptom. Saying “God Bless You” was thought to be a common halt to the disease.

Another explanation behind saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes, is that legend has it that your heart stops every time you sneeze. Saying “God Bless You” was supposed to ensure that you would continue living and your heart would continue beating.

Another legend explaining the phrase “God Bless You” was that people believed that your soul could be thrown from your body when you sneeze. It was believed that sneezing opened up your body to invasion by the devil or evil spirits. Another thought was that sneezing was the bodies’ effort to force out invading evil spirits.

Lastly, many people used to believe that sneezing was a sign that God would answer your prayers or that sneezing was an omen of good fortune or good luck. The phrase “God Bless You” was recognition of that luck.”

He remained affirmative that his reasoning was completely unrelated to the religious aspect. He was simply continuously upset by the classroom distraction of when one student would sneeze, several students would say “bless you,” prompting the sneezer to thank them each.  So upset that in a method to essentially break students of the habit, he would dock students’ grade points every time they said it.

Students in Steven Cuckovich’s high school health class in Vacaville, Calif. lost 25 points off a test. The next day, someone used the phrase again when a student sneezed, and Will C. Wood High School student Erica Fagan told KXTV that Cuckovich docked points off everyone’s grades.”

Out of all the phrases adults and young people alike say that really ought to be banned from existence for actual significant reasons, Cuckovich went with that one. He clearly has a severe dis-appreciation for hearing it. As previously stated, this no-warning-to -students-point-deduction-system has been reversed.

No word on how he would have felt if everyone was saying “gesundheit”, and then thank you for that. Or, at what point this professor forgot the tradition of respecting constitutional rights, such as free speech.


About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.


3 thoughts on “As Long As You’re in My Classroom, You’ll Abide By My Rules: No Blessing Anyone!

  1. Maybe the Bd. of Ed. needs to dock $$$ off his paycheck every time he reduces a students grade for something unrelated to the students academic performance.

    Posted by jlue | January 1, 2012, 10:05 pm


  1. Pingback: Blessings customs under the microscope « Naty Matos's Blog - October 6, 2011

  2. Pingback: Things I Have Wondered About – Now I Know | Jlue’s Weblog - January 1, 2012

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