Appalachia

How Many Times do You Sneeze?

 

Ah Ah choo sneeze folklore

A few weeks ago, Blind Pig Reader Charles Fletcher sent me the following email:

Tipper,

Question for the Blind Pigs? How many times do some people sneeze when they have a sneezing spell? I usually sneeze close to nine times before I stop. My brother also told me he did the same. How about you and others?

Nine times in a row-wow! I haven’t ever sneezed more than two or three times in a row-and even that is rare. I asked The Deer Hunter how many times he’s sneezed in a row and he said about the same as me.

Have you ever noticed how people sneeze differently? You know some people have a cute little ‘achoo’ so faint you’re not sure if it was actually a sneeze. Then there are people who sneeze big and loud-I’m one of them. Actually so are Paul and Steve, I think we got it from Pap.

Have you ever known someone who sneezes every time they bend over-I mean every last time? I know someone just like that. I’m thinking of entering her in a contest for ‘on demand sneezing’. If you hear about such a contest let me know, she’d win it without a doubt.

When I was in elementary school and someone sneezed we would say Gesundheit. Using a word like that made us feel so grown up. These days I most often hear God Bless You or Bless You said to a person who has just sneezed unless Miss Cindy is around.

Miss Cindy answers a sneeze with ‘scat there Tom your tails in the gravy‘ or a shortened ‘scat there‘.

I tried to find the origin of the ‘scat‘ saying for sneezes but came up with nothing. The Frank C. Brown collection of folklore¬†had 18 different references to sneezing-all of which resulted in death.

Hope you’ll leave a comment and let Charles and me know how many times you sneeze when you have a sneezing spell.

Tipper

 

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    December 3, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    My family said ‘scat there’ too.
    And Granny would say “scat” meaning get outta here or out of my way.. ?

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    December 3, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Almost always sneeze 3 times, never less. Very seldom more than 3.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I only sneeze a couple times, but I had a boss that when he started sneezing he wouldn’t stop until there were at least a dozen. Sounded like a machine gun. He is a Brit and we were on one of Britain’s major highways and I thought I was going to have to drive since he was having such sneezing fit while driving.
    I read that the God bless you was because it was thought that the heart stopped beating when you sneezed.

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Higman
    December 2, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    My parents always said “scat Tom, get your tail out of her face” Never heard of “tail in the gravy” I only sneeze two or three times and I will definitely sneeze when I step out in the bright sunlight. And it does feel really good when it’s over. And Miss Cindy you are the first person I ever heard of that sneezes when you bend over!!!!! Now, mind you, I’m not laughing….but you have to admit it is kinda funny. Te he he

  • Reply
    Perri Morrison
    December 2, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Tipper and the Gang! I just love what Patty said about the three sneezes and the angels. I must have angels all around me because I always sneeze 3 times, and I’m one of those loud sneezers. I rattle windows when I sneeze! And scare my dog to boot! Thank you so much for the Mother Goose CD – I will be taking it to my Mama’s so she can hear it!! Love from Marshall on the riverbank.

  • Reply
    Ken
    December 2, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Tipper,
    All I know is I sneeze two or three times, then all the stars are re-aligned and I feel good. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 2, 2016 at 11:05 am

    A normal sneezing session for me is usually one or two. Sometimes though, when I am driving, I will have an attack that lasts for a good long time. I’ve never counted but it I estimate they are in excess of two dozen. One about every twenty seconds. For about ten minutes. I always slow down when it starts because I close my eyes for a couple of seconds every time I sneeze.
    If there is somebody with me I will try to suppress my sneezes out of respect for them but when I am alone I just let-r-rip. Sometimes I sneeze so hard it hurts my chest but when it is over I feel better. I suppose its like cleaning your air conditioning ducts. Your air flows better afterward.
    Back before they started putting snuff in their lip, those who could afford it sniffed it to make themselves sneeze. Those who can afford it still sniff stuff but it ain’t snuff no more.

  • Reply
    Charline
    December 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

    My Daddy would often say, “Scat, cat- your tail’s on fire!”
    I sneeze a lot, lately. Yesterday was probably 5 “choo’s” in a row a few times. I must be allergic to the flocking on the artificial tree. I’m also allergic to real evergreens, not to mention the orphan cat who has adopted us.
    Thank you, Miss Cindy, for confessing, as I was curious about that peculiar condition.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 2, 2016 at 10:33 am

    If I sneeze once, I can almost guarantee that it will be followed by one more sneeze within 30 seconds of the first one. I can also almost guarantee that there will not be a third one. This has been consistent for as long as ng as I can remember.

  • Reply
    Patty
    December 2, 2016 at 10:30 am

    My Grandma always said when you sneezed 3 times in a row, an angel flew by, and her wings tickled your nose. I have passed that down to my kids and grands.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    December 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I guess I first heard’ “Gesundheit” from my mother’s father who was of German descent. I always heard’ “Scat there Tom your tails in the gravy” from Dad’s mother. I use both. I hear’ “Bless you” or “God bless you” quite often. I usually sneeze once and its very well contained. My wife says I’m going to burst something someday.

  • Reply
    William Roy Pipes
    December 2, 2016 at 10:21 am

    I don’t know where I first heard this song, Burl Ives sung it.
    Fare thee well, Fare thee well,
    Fare thee well, my fairy fay,
    For I’m off to Lousiana, For to see my Susyanna,
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    Oh a grasshopper sitting on a rail road track
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    A-pickin’ his teeth with a carpet tack
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    Behind the barn down on my knees
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    I thought I heard the chicken sneeze
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    Oh he sneezed so hard, had a whooping cough
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.
    He sneezed his head and his tail right off
    Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.

  • Reply
    Howland
    December 2, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Once. Just once. If I sneeze more than once, it’s a sign that I didn’t get it right the first time…

  • Reply
    Dolores
    December 2, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I usually sneeze about two times when I do get into a spell. I always look at it as a way to clear the cobwebs out of my head. They are rather hardy ones, so I hope to prepare before the event happens.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    December 2, 2016 at 9:01 am

    If this is a contest, I win! The girls in my real estate office used to feel sorry for me and referred me to many allergy doctors who couldn’t identify the culprit. When I left that building, I stopped sneezing so much. Instead of 200 times a day, I’m down to 100. The old, moldy building surely had something to do with my sneezing fits. The building is now a daycare center… My house is surrounded by whiskey distilleries here in the bourbon capital of the world. Everyone in this area has allergy issues that comes with lots of sneezing. My sneezes are never faint. It’s been said they are hurricane strength.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 2, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Always sneeze 3 usually more times.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 2, 2016 at 8:59 am

    My youngest son sneezes almost every time he walks out into bright sunlight and always twice. I’m just a run of the mill sneezer unless it’s allergy season then I can have a sneezing fit. I’ve counted as many as twelve times in a row. When I sneeze I let’er rip. It just feels so much better to really let go. I have been known to scare small children and animals. I have a friend I worked with for years and I use to worry about her head exploding because she would only let out a little barley audible noise when she sneezed. I would encourage her to let it rip one good time and she would be amazed but she just couldn’t do it. My grandpa would say, “Scat Tom!” when someone sneezed and I say it sometimes myself. When he sneezed everyone knew it! If he was out on the porch in his rocking chair he was prone to let out a very loud ahhhhh sh$&! That was so funny to me because that was the only time he ever used a bad word.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    December 2, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I sneeze six times in a row! My sneezes get laughs from folks that don’t know me. They are very quiet or as a new colleague said, ” dainty!” Hmmm, I’ve never thought of myself as dainty!
    As for the answer to a sneeze, my mama and daddy would say “scat there cat!” That would make me laugh out loud and my sneezing fit would end!

  • Reply
    Marcus Gampe
    December 2, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I am surprised about the word “Gesundheit”, this is straight forward German. How did it make it here and survive that long?

  • Reply
    Jack
    December 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

    I heard the expression “scat cat” when I was growing up, but don’t know the derivation. Maybe some people are allergic to cat hair. Also, remember hearing a belief that cats can steal a baby’s breath.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    December 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

    I’ve also heard “Scat cat get your tail out the butter” or “tail out the fire”. There is a podcast called ‘A Way With Words’ that suggested the phrase might have originated from the belief that a sneeze was dispossessing an evil spirit and that it was bad luck to mention the devil by name.

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    December 2, 2016 at 8:20 am

    I’m old now, but it was only in middle age that I once heard my first cousin sneezing and realized that I thought it was my Daddy, who at that time had been gone several years. When I told my cousin about the similarity, he said, “well , and always three times, right?” And he was right: That’s when I first realized that my own sneezes are most always in a series of three. How odd isn’t it that such an insignificant thing may be part of our family inheritance. How many other little physical things that we do may be linked to the many strands of our ancient DNA heritage from old fathers and mothers from ages past? Of course we will mostly never know such things, and family habits are also established by example in our homes. Still—–
    It’s nice to have a place where such peculiar subjects may be spoken of in good humor and a nice family feeling.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 2, 2016 at 8:13 am

    My grandmother said scat there and I thought it meant to tell the sneeze germs to scat there.
    I never heard the tail in the gravy part.
    I had completely forgotten about it til you mentioned it.
    Thanks for the memory.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 2, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Don’t think I have sneezing fits or if I do they are so rare that I don’t think I do. I think maybe not only do people sneeze differently but how much people sneeze varies widely even when in a dusty environment. One of those mysteries of human nature.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    December 2, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Two to there times.
    Pam
    scrap-n-sewgranny.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 2, 2016 at 6:32 am

    I confess, I’m the one who sneezes every time I bend over, but that’s not the only time I sneeze. Sometimes I sneeze then follow it with 5 or 6 more but that doesn’t happen often. I consider myself a creative sneezer. Sometimes I can do the quiet little lady like sneeze and sometimes I do the, blow the windows out, big sneezes. Mostly I just do average sneezes.
    This is my full disclosure sneezing report, Tip, and yes I’ve never noticed how different folks sneeze, but I’ve never meet anyone else who sneezes when they bend over. LOL!

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