You know how sometimes in anime characters will be talking about someone behind their back and it cuts to that person sneezing. I think it might have been a bit more popular a while back but it’s still used regularly enough. Well, that’s what I want to talk about.
I’m not sure if I somehow managed to instill false memories in myself but I think that I’ve always known about the old superstition that if you sneeze out of the blue it means that someone is talking about you. Or just thinking about you. That’s the version I remember actually.
However, when I started to research this trope a bit for this silly little post, I found out that it was specifically an Eastern belief so I have no clue where I would have picked it up from.
In any case, as someone who is pretty much always sneezing, I always liked the idea. Either someone is deeply obsessed with me or there is always a new person thinking of me. The second choice being my favourite. Either way, if my non-stop sneezing is to be believed, I am one popular girl regardless of how long it’s been since anyone invited me to do something… I mean there is a pandemic and all.
As such, I wanted to know a bit more about where this strange notion came from. Like in a lot of old wives’ tales, there’s really no precise origin or anything. At least none that I could find. I wouldn’t call my research exhaustive though. In fact, I mostly read through good old Wikipedia and CEENTA (Charlotte Eye, Ear Nose and Throat Associates) and all the other sites I found just repeated the same things.
From what I read, the idea that a sneeze is a sign someone is talking about you has been around for a long time. Over a 1000 years in fact. It’s mentioned in the Book of Songs (a collection of Chinese poems) which collects writings from the 7th to 11th centuries. So maybe there is some truth to it.
There is a bit more to it than the simple sneeze=talk bit though. I found several sneezing codes available. One states that one sneeze means something good has been said, two is something bad, three means that someone is in love with you while four is a sign that tragedy will befall your family. Thankfully my standard sneeze rotation is 3! YAY. Although when it’s not three it’s two, which is still better than 4.
Another variation of that one keeps some of the outcomes the same, the sneezer can tell if something good is being said (one sneeze), someone is thinking about you (two sneezes in a row), even if someone is in love with you (three sneezes in a row) or if this is a sign that they are about to catch a cold (multiple sneezes). I have to say that the last one is rather universal although I would twerk it to it’s a sign you’ve already caught a cold. I do like that the three sneeze meaning remains the same. That means it’s probably 100% true!
It does say that in many places around the world sneezing for no reason is believed to be a sign that you are remembered by someone. So maybe that’s where my “someone is thinking about you” belief comes from.
But there are other odd cultural superstitions associated with sneezing. One of my favourite variations is the Polish myth that if you sneeze without reason it’s not simply a sign that someone is talking about you but that specifically, your mother-in-law is talking smack about you! Don’t have one? Don’t worry, you will and she will not like you! Sheesh!
In parts of India and Iran, sneezing right before starting work is suppose to be a sign that you’re going to get interrupted the whole time and probably will get nothing done. There’s even a custom to take a little break if it happens and like have a drink or something to reset the interruption curse. There might be some truth to that. I sneeze all the time and I’m interrupted nonstop!
Of course, there are tons of regional beliefs that if you sneeze at specific times of the day or mostly night it’s a sign of either good luck or bad luck. Then again, what isn’t a sign of either good luck or bad luck? Just for once, I would love to get a sign of neutral luck.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anime use the trope in any other way than the single sneeze when someone is talking about you but it might be fun to see some of the variations. The mother-in-law one could be used to foreshadow a new romance or something! Sweet.
Here’s one last random sneezing fact for you. Because why else would you be reading an anime blog? But bear with me, it could have some relevance. Sneezing is linked in many ways with sexuality. And anime is often super sexy. See it all connects!
We’ve probably all heard that a sneeze is like an orgasm. Although that’s a fairly debatable point there are some biological similarities. They do both produce endorphins for one. There are also quite a few people that sneeze when they get aroused. It’s still not entirely clear why but it’s common enough for there to be several theories floating about.
I’m pretty sure this is information no one will ever use but hey, this entire post was sort of random. Although it did teach me that clearly there are a lot of people deeply in love with me and that makes me a little happy!