The gentile public are used to the Jews placing chanukiyyot in public places – in busy streets, shopping centres, city parks, central squares. Chanukah lights are kindled by civic dignitaries. Doughnuts are given out to all and sundry. Hardly anyone is unaware that the Jews have a holiday with a universal message.
Why not similar celebrations for other festivals, especially Pesach which also has rousing tunes, a major message, and special foods that would be a hit with the public?
In one sense the attraction of the Chanukah parades is connected with the time of year since it is generally December when the mood is already associated with celebration.
From the internal Jewish point of view there is an element that almost dictates a public event – the principle of pirsumei nissa, “publicising the miracle”. Because of pirsumei nissa, the Chanukah lights have to be visible from outside the house. Not just because of Mattityahu and the Maccabees, but because Chanukah stands for the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Celebrating in the streets also symbolises freedom of association and freedom from fear.
There could be a case for making Pesach a more public event, though it might not be politic because of the christological associations of that time of year. Yet Pesach – maybe even more than Chanukah – has a global message, not specific freedoms (of speech, religion, etc.) but freedom itself. Man, everyman, has a right to be free… to be himself.