Dreidel has been a favourite game of children during the eight nights of Hanukkah since around the 16th century. Believed to be of German origin, the game represents a significant part of the Hanukkah festival. The objective of the game is for a group of players to take turns spinning a four sided top, called a dreidel, and to accumulate coins or other “prizes” through a combination of luck and strategy.
The dreidel was then adopted as a symbol of the victory of the Maccabees and the re-dedication of the Temple. Its four Hebrew sides – Nun, Gimmel, Hay, Shin – stand for the phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” or “A great miracle happened there.”
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How to Play Dreidel at Hanukkah?
The Object of the Game
The object of the game is to collect as many coins or “prizes” as possible. Each player starts with the same amount of coins (generally 5-10 pennies, chocolate coins, nuts, or other treats).
The players sit in a circle around a bowl or container that will serve as the “pot” and the dreidel is placed in the center of the circle.
Playing the Game
The game is played in turns. The first player spins the dreidel and pay attention to the Hebrew letter as the dreidel lands. Depending on which letter it lands on, the following will happen (make sure everyone understands the meanings of the letters before playing):
- Nun – the player doesn’t win or lose any coins
- Gimmel – the player wins the entire pot
- Hay – the player wins half the pot
- Shin – the player adds a coin to the pot
After each turn, the coins are distributed accordingly and the next player take his/her turn. When a player loses all of his/her coins, they’re out of the game. The last player remaining with coins in hand wins.
Dreidel at Hanukkah is a custom that symbolizes the victory of the Jewish people over those who sought to prevent them from practising their religion. It serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the Maccabees and of the miracle of Hanukkah. Through spinning the dreidel, children and adults can immerse themselves in the story of Hanukkah and have fun at the same time.
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Last update 2023-11-22. Price and product availability may change.