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Culture: Health! Money! and Love!

by Brandi

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October 26th, 2009

Every culture in the world (at least all that I know of) values “Health”, “Money”, and “Love.” If any of you readers out there know of a culture that doesn’t value health, money, or love, I’d love to hear about it.

These three words used together form a very small piece of Latin American culture, but in a way you might not have guessed. These words are said when someone sneezes! If you sneeze once, Latin people say “Health!” If you sneeze a twice, they say “Money!” and a third sneeze in a row brings “Love!”

I have allergies and usually when I sneeze, I sneeze about 6 or 7 times in a row! I usually catch Latin people off-guard because after “Health!”, “Money!” and “Love!” they run out of things to say.

Sometimes people in Latin America will just say “Health!” and forget the rest. However, many are eager to wish you all three: “Health!”, “Money!” and “Love!” when every time you sneeze.

You might think it sounds a little odd to say “Health!” when someone sneezes, but if you think about it, it makes a little more sense than what we say in English — “Bless you!”. In the dictionary, the word “bless” means “to consecrate by religious rite or word”. It’s almost as if we’re trying to bless someone religiously when they sneeze. The Spanish version makes a lot more sense to me; you are wishing someone good “Health” so they can get better and avoid more germ-filled sneezes. So, why do they add “Money” and “Love” to multiple sneezes? I’m not quite sure, but if you wish someone “Health”, you might as well add “Money” and “Love” and offer them a complete package—because who doesn’t want health, money, and love!

Just remember how to say them in Spanish, one sneeze = Health – “Salud” [saw-lood]. Two sneezes = Money – “Dinero” [dee-neh-row]. And, a third sneeze = Love – “Amor ” [Ah-more].

Now for the interesting part for me, I would love to know what people around the world say when someone else sneezes—please comment.

Moral of the Story: This week’s topic is a fun little cultural phrase that people say when someone sneezes. Be daring and try it out the next time you hear a Latin person sneeze!

Sneak peek at next week: “Don’t Waste Your Food – All Parts of the Cow!!?”

¡Hasta luego! (“Until later!”)
David S. Clark — President / Director
Click here to learn Spanish!

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6 Responses

  1. Oksana says:


    I am a Russian girl. And I teach English. It’s always interesting to get to know how people express themselves in other languages. In Russian we also say “Be healthy! to someone sneezing! I think that Russian mentality is close to the one of the Spanish. And it’s Poles apart from English!

  2. Manuela says:

    It is so interesting. Thanks, Dave. I’m a Chinese. Now am introduce something about how Chinese react when people sneeze. First, if someone sneezes particularly for kids, parents always say ‘Baisui’, which in English means wish someone can live longer, till 100 years old. that’s simply because many years ago China was a poor country. People starved. Many people and kids died of disease and hunger. So when people sneeze, we say ‘Baisui’ to wish he can be whelth, to live longer. this is quite similiar with Latin American people. Another one is when people sneeze, they would say ‘oh, who is missing me ?or who is cursing me ?’ people think if someone is missing somebody or cursing somebody, he can feel that and get this feeling through sneeze.
    But nowadays China absorbs western culture so much, like you can hear ‘oh, my god’ in China everywhere. so now if people sneeze, we say ‘bless you’ naturally. but now i can say Salud, Dinero and Amor as well. hehe

  3. James Bredin says:

    The Irish only say “health” which is “shlainte” in Gaelic and they still say shlainte when they have a drink in their hands.

  4. Boryana says:

    Hola, amigos internacionales! :)

    It is so useful and fun at the same time to get to know so much about Spanish / Latin American and North American culture through the Spanish learning programs provided by Dave Clark and the newsletters.
    Me gustan mucho! :)
    I am from Bulgaria and in my country we also wish ‘Health’ to the person who sneezes. We say “Наздраве” (in Bulgarian – in Cyrillic) which is actually also used (as is the case with Ireland obviously – seen from the above comment of James) when we make a toast with drinks.
    Bulgarian culture seems to have a similarity with the Chinese culture as well as we very often believe that when one is sneezing someone is mentioning or thinking about this person.
    I really find a lot of similar things between my own culture and the Latin American – a good example is the attitude towards the elderly family members – we normally look after them when they are retired and especially if they have serious health problems, they live with us or separately but we make sure that they have enough food and all the bills are paid, etc. So the family ties are very strong with us as well, but I would refer this to the fact that we (the Slavonic peoples) are defined as collectivistic societies, unlike, for example the USA, which has an individualistic society.
    It is very enriching and much necessary to be aware of these cultural differences so that a person can be open-minded and tolerant in his/her communication experiences with people from other cultures, especially in our constantly globalizing world.

  5. Jo Ann B. says:

    Hola. I am an American in Los Angeles. I majored in English, teach ESL, and have many friends from different parts of the world. I found this topic interesting so I wanted to share a little about why English speakers say “bless you” instead of “health” as it seems most countries do. There are different ideas concerning why but the short answer is superstition. Some people believed a long time ago that when you sneezed your soul would come out and could be attacked by demons. Others believed that when you sneezed demons could enter your body. Either way saying “bless you” was a way to protect the person from being attacked by demons. If anyone wants more information you can go to:



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