In contrast to our grim (but pertinent) subject earlier in the week, today we stir the feelings of the present season of Thanksgiving. In this season of thankfulness, when we recount our blessings, it helps to look to the Biblical world for precedents. Amongst the festivals of the ancient Hebrews was the Feast of Tabernacles, a celebration of thanksgiving indeed. This festival celebrated the end of the harvest season, and the blessings of that harvest. Celebrants camped out for the week, and ate and slept in tents and booths (hence the name). Activities included dancing into the night. All of Jerusalem was lit by a myriad oil lamps. People carried water from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple in gold pitchers, to be poured over the altar. That ceremony was a thanksgiving for the rain of the year, and likewise was a prayer for rain in the coming season. All manner of special offerings were given at the temple as well (Num. 29). An additional ceremony involved the binding of citron with palm, willow, and three myrtle branches (Lev. 23:40). The culmination of the festival was "The Great Hosanna," in which people marched around the Temple, crying "Hosanna, please save us!," as they waved palm branches.
All in all, the Hebrews set the example for our modern Thanksgiving. In this season of Thanksgiving, take a moment to look into the Feast of Tabernacles. You'll be thankful you did. Godspeed.