“Oh Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay. And when its dry and ready, Oh dreidel I shall play.” — Children’s Hanukkah Song
The dreidel is a four sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. The word for dreidel in Hebrew is S’veevon. Dreidel is a Yiddish word taken from the German word drehen (which means to turn). Dreidels can be made of any materials.
Outside of Israel (and prior to 1948 – when we got our home land back), dreidels have the letters nun, gimmel, hay, shin. These stand for “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” which means “a great miracle happened there.”
In Israel, dreidels have the letters nun, gimmel, hay, pay. These stand for “Nes Gadol Haya Po” which means “a great miracle happened here.”
Dreidel Game Rules
Everyone starts out with the same amount of pennies, chocolate coins (Hanukkah gelt), candies, raisins, or tokens. All players put one token in the pot in the center.
Then players take turns spinning the dreidel. The player acts according to the letter which is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning.
player does nothing
player takes the pot
player takes half the pot
Shin – Pay
player puts one in the pot