The Hanukkah holiday has become an established part of Jewish culture and religious practice, celebrated annually with great joy and festivities. An integral part of this celebration includes playing the dreidel game with spinning tops, known as the ‘dreidel’ in Yiddish. So, what is the exact Yiddish word for spinning top as played on Hanukkah?
The Yiddish word for the spinning top used to play the dreidel game is ‘sevivon’ (pronounced ‘seh-VEE-vohn’). This four-sided top generally has a Hebrew letter inscribed on each side, and is traditionally used in the traditional spinning top game on Hanukkah. Every Hanukkah, people of the Jewish faith around the world have the chance to take part in this ancient tradition by spinning these dreidel tops in play.
The top can be made of wood, plastic, or metal, although the most prized examples are those that are hand crafted from wood. Generally each side of the dreidel contains a letter from the four-letter acronym in Hebrew, which stands for ‘Nes Gadol Hayah Sham’, meaning: ‘A Great Miracle Happened There.’ Some dreidels have four Hebrew letters (נגה״ש), while others have four letters from the same acronym in both Hebrew and Yiddish (נ״ג ה״ש).
To play the game, players take turns spinning the dreidel and either receiving or placing pieces of candy (known as ‘gelt’) in the center of the playing area. The outcome of the game usually depends on how the dreidel falls — with which letter is on top when it stops spinning — and each player’s position at the beginning and end of the game. The time-honored pastime of playing the dreidel game at Hanukkah is seen as an excellent opportunity to foster friendship and community among Jewish members of all ages.
In summary, the Yiddish word for the spinning top used during Hanukkah festivities is referred to as a ‘sevivon’. This traditional game has been connected to Hanukkah celebrations for centuries, and for many, is the highlight of the eight day holiday. It is a fun and engaging way to bring people together as they share in the joy of the season, and remains a popular part of Jewish culture to this day.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.