Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nothing to sneeze at...

Well Miss Etta, I know you are off visiting family. I hope you are enjoying yourself immensely. A lot of people are on the roads and in the air traveling to see their dear ones (or not so dear ones in some cases).

I have been blessed to have most of our family come home to roost in Georgia. They are all near enough that we can see each other when we choose without too much difficulty, yet we are far enough apart to ensure we don't can't look over the fence or drop in unannounced for breakfast.

I plan to retire early tonight but thought I would at least share a word or two with our readers. I have noted that our readership is already growing considerably so we must be saying something someone want to read. Either that or a lot of people are interested in mint juleps.

Earlier I talked a bit about white elephants. Today I used the term "nothing to sneeze at" while talking with a friend and decided I needed to find out were that term came from.

Sneezing is something you try not to do in polite company. Ladies used to carry delicate hankies in the event they were overtaken by a sneeze (although they certainly had other reasons for carrying the lacy pieces of cloth). You should never sneeze loudly and should always cover your mouth. If a hankie or tissue is available it should be employed.

Why would someone say something was nothing to sneeze at? Who sneezes AT something?

It seems that manners have changed over the years. In times gone by high society went through some misguided craze where they induced sneezes. Yes, it is true. Everyone who was anyone would carry a box of ground herb mixed with tobacco. A pinch stuffed into the nostril produced a very loud sneeze.

Because most of the people partaking of the sneezing craze were in the so-called leisure class, it became a mark of indolence. If they heard some piece gossip or news they would stuff the nasty mix into their nose, then sneeze to show they were bored with what they'd heard. When something isn't too be sneezed at, it is important. It is something that wouldn't evoke a sneeze.

I am SO glad that practice has gone by the wayside. I do not think I will be using that phrase nearly as much in the future knowing its history!

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