Could you please tell me why we have to have a white hankie at the dedication of a temple? When was this first done? What temple did we first use this at? I want to explain it to my children as well as record it in my journal. Thank you very much.
The waving of white handkerchiefs is part of the Hosanna Shout that is used at the dedication of temples. This is one of the methods of praising the Lord, and is an expression of joy and jubilation. It has been carried over from biblical times. In the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie–
Included in the Feast of Tabernacles was a holy convocation, which in this instance was called also a solemn assembly. In our modern solemn assemblies we give the Hosanna Shout, which also was associated with the Feast of Tabernacles anciently, except that ancient Israel waved palm branches instead of white handkerchiefs as they exulted in such declarations as ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, to God and the Lamb.’ (“The Promised Messiah”, p.426)
It was introduced in the latter days as a ritual during the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and was part of the endowment ceremony.
The Hosana Shout also represents the pre-earthly council in Heaven where we all shouted for joy. (See Job 38:7)