Spin the Dreidel This Hanukkah

By Hannah Avison

You know the Dreidel Song, but how about the dreidel game? Playing with this four-sided spinning top (the Hebrew word for dreidel is sevivon, which means “to turn around”) is a common Hanukkah tradition that’s a cinch to set up and fun for all ages. So grab some of your best friends and loved ones and spin some holiday memories!

CC0 Creative Commons
Element5 Digital

What you’ll need. First, you’ll need game pieces. Traditionally, many like to play with gelt (aka chocolate coins). However, you can use whatever you’d like (pennies, nuts, candy pieces, etc). You’ll also need a dreidel. This is the toy that will determine everyone’s fate! Finally, you’ll want to station the game on a flat, hard surface. It’s best to play this game on the floor or a large table.

How To Play

  1. There can be as many players as you’d like.
  2. Each player starts with the same number of game pieces.
  3. At the start of each game, all the players put one game piece into the center ”pot.“
  4. Every time it’s your turn, you spin the dreidel once. Whichever side it lands on determines your fate – whether you give or get pieces from the pot.
  5. Here’s a guide to what the Hebrew letters and transliterations mean:
    • Nun means ”nisht“ or ”nothing.“ The player does nothing.
    • Gimel means ”gantz“ or ”everything.“ The player gets everything in the pot.
    • Hey means ”halb“ or ”half.“ The player gets half of the pot. In case there’s an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one.
    • Shin means ”shtel“ or ”put in.“ The player adds a game piece to the pot.

When one of the players wins everything, that particular round is over. But no worries - you can play as many rounds as you’d like. Be sure to do a few practice spins before you get started, and most importantly, have a blast!

For a dreidel party favor and other gift ideas, check out 3 Thoughtful DIY Hanukkah Gifts.

Cover image by Element5 Digital