In our A Brief History of Hanukkah blog, we mentioned the Dreidel game, a game associated now with Hanukkah and RoseAnna and I thought it would be fun to write a little something about Dreidel and how it is played.
The game, while now firmly linked to Hanukkah, is thought by some scholars to have been originally played by Students of the Torah, to fool the Greeks. They would switch to the gambling game if authorities came near. While these are good explanations, they were, in fact, written well after the Dreidel was part of Jewish tradition.
The Dreidel game has most likely been played by many different cultures and religions for thousands of years.
In England and Ireland it is known as teetotum (ca 1500s), while the German equivalent was called a trundl. And although dreideli was the Yiddish name of the game, when the Hebrew language was revived, they called it sevivon.
Inscribed on the Dreidel pieces are nun, gimmel, hey, shin.
They stand for nes gadol haya sham, “A great miracle happened there” if you don’t live in Israel, or if you do live there, nun, gimmel, hey, pey, meaning “A great miracle happened here” if you do.
Traditionally the game is played with Gelt (gold coins). You can also use nuts, tokens and the most popular choice for kids these days are gold wrapped chocolate coins.
Playing Dreidel is a fun way to spend time together during the evenings of Hanukkah.
We hope this night brings you peace, and togetherness.
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