The 101 on Dreidling

I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
And when its dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.

One can often hear children chanting songs about Hanukkah a month ahead of time; after all- the schools needs to get them ready for the annual Hanukkah recital concert. The dreidel, along with the Hanukkah Menorah/ Hannukiyah, is the icon of the Festival of Lights and often brings a lot of excitement with it for children and adults alike.

Well, we thought we should also prepare ahead of time and give you the 101 on how to play dreidel.

So here is how it goes:

1. The best part about this game is that any amount of people can join in on the fun. The more the merrier!

2. Each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10-15) such as Hannukah gelt (pennies or chocolate), nuts, raisins, matchsticks etc. Whatever your heart desires….

3. At the beginning of each round, each player puts a game piece in the center pot. In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put another one in the pot.

4. Every time it's a person's turn to spin, the dreidel is spun once. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot.

5. Now, depending on where you live, the letters on the dreidel may differ. Those playing in Eretz Yisrael/ Israel have a dreidel with the letters Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Pey whereas those playing outside of Israel will have a dreidel with the letters Nun, GimmeL, Hay and Shin. The reason for this is that the Pey stands for the Hebrew word Poh, which means here, and the letter Shin, stands for the Hebrew word Sham, which means there. Together they read "A great miracle happened here" or "A great miracle happened there."

Now the actual letters also resemble how the game plays out and what each player should do:

Nun means nisht in Yiddish which means nothing so the player does nothing.

Gimmel means gantz in Yiddish which means everything so the player gets everything in the pot.

Hey means halb in Yiddish which means half so the player gets half of the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces, the player takes half of the total plus one).

Shin means shtel in Yiddish which means put in. Pey stands pay so the player has to add a piece to the pot.

6. If a player has no game pieces left, the player is either out of the game or may ask a fellow player for a loan.

7. When one person has all the game pieces, the game is over for that round.

8. We suggest that you use money for the game so the winner can donate part of the winnings to charity and share some Hanukkah gifts with those in need.

So spin, spin and spin away and have fun.

For the best dreidels to play this game in all different colors, materials, sizes and designs, click here:  

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