Sneezing is something that is common to everyone, no matter where they are from in the world. The reaction from those around you, however, can change from country to country. While it might seem like a minor response, it can actually give us a great insight into different cultures and the spread of languages across the globe.
So you can know what reaction to expect when you sneeze around the world, and why, Expedia has created this infographic which provides a comprehensive overview of sneeze responses across the planet.
In Europe, wishes to one’s health dominate the center and east of the continent, such as the Slavic, Nazdravie, Germanic Gesundheit and the Latin Salut. There are also intonations to a higher being to be found, like in the Irish Dia Leat (God be with you) and Portuguese Santinho (Little saint). These stem from times when it was believed that sneezing was akin to exorcizing a demon, thus being an important time to have God on your side.
The South American map is dominated by the Spanish Salud, brought with the Spaniards during their colonization of much of the continent. The only exceptions are the Portuguese Saúde in Brazil, the Dutch Gesondheid of Suriname and French Guiana’s Santé.
North America is a mixture of Spanish and the English (God) bless you, apart from Francophone Haiti and Canada. The one country that stands out in the importance it places on sneezes, however, is Mexico, where a sneeze is a sign that your partner is cheating on you with someone called Sancho/Sancha!
Africa, on the other hand, displays a wealth of linguistic differences. The French Á tes /vos souhait is prominent in the west and the Arabic Alhumdullilah dominates North Africa, but the east has more of a native feel with the Amharic Yimarish in Ethiopia and Tanzania’s Swahili blessing of good health Afya.
Asia bucks a global trend as many of its biggest countries, such as India, China, Korea and the Philippines don’t pass comment at all when someone sneezes. It might seem strange considering the rest of the world does, yet it is perfectly logical when one considers that there are, thankfully, very few bodily functions that people feel compelled to comment on.
So, wherever you go in the world, take note of how they react when someone sneezes, it might actually be revealing far more about their history and culture than you thought.