The following informant is an 8th grader. In this account she is explaining the phrase “bless you”. This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as SA and I am identified as K:
SA: So bless you, um… , so basically when you sneeze someone should tell you bless you because back when the plague was around, they thought sneezing was a certain death, so they said “god bless you” and that was like a prayer over it, so when you say bless you to someone you are praying for them
K: how did you hear about this
SA: From my mom, she used to tell us that when we were younger and now I always say bless you to people
Context: She told me this while at my house one weekend.
This was something I also heard growing up, and like the informant it became drilled into my head to always say bless you. Our moms are sisters, so maybe they heard it from each other, but even growing up I heard it from my other friends. What I find most interesting is that this version, along with others I have heard over the years, its sound very religious, yet people who are not religious say it. It’s become such a common manner that you might not even realize you are blessing someone.