The Dreidel game is a traditional Hanukkah activity. Here’s how to play dreidel, the rules and the meaning of each dreidel symbol.
Be sure to check out the other posts in our Holidays Around The World Series.
THE MEANING OF THE DREIDEL
What is a dreidel? A dreidel is a 4-sided top-like toy that is used to play a game during Hanukkah.
On the traditional four-sided dreidel are the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hay, and shin.
They stand for the Hebrew words “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” which means “A great miracle happened there.”
This Jewish game refers to the miracle that happened over 2000 years ago when after Judas Maccabee and a few brave soldiers defeated the mighty army of a cruel king who tried to make the Jewish people worship idols. The Jews lit the temple lamp.
Though there was only enough oil in the lamp for a few hours of light, the lamp continued to burn for eight days and eight nights! That is why Hanukkah or “Feast of the Lights” is celebrated for eight days.
HOW TO PLAY DREIDEL
During Hanukkah, people love to play this game. Whether you are Jewish or not, this is a fun Hanukkah activity that any number of people can play.
Gather your friends and family and add this to your favorite holiday party games to play together during December.
All you need is a dreidel and 10 pieces of “Hanukkah Gelt” for each player.
Shop Hanukkah Dreidels here:
What to use for Hanukkah Gelt:
- candy coins
- dried beans
- small stones
- small candies
DREIDEL GAME RULES
Dreidel rules are actually pretty simple. Dreidel game is really fun to play. Here are the rules of Dreidel:
- To start the game, each player puts one piece in the center of the table.
- Whenever the pot is totally empty, each player puts another piece in the pot. (For a shorter game, each player puts one piece in the pot before every person’s turn.
- The first player will spin a dreidel.
Here’s what to do depending on what the first player spins:
- Nun (nothing) comes up, nothing is done. It is the next player’s turn.
- Gimmel (everything)– player takes all the pieces in the pot and it is the next player’s turn.
- Hay (half)– player takes half the pieces. (If there is an uneven number player takes half plus one). It is the next person’s turn.
- Shin (put in)– player adds a piece to the pot and it is the next player’s turn.
For example, if gimel dreidel is spun, the player takes al the pieces from the middle.
The game is over when one player has won all the pieces.
Now you know how to play the dreidel game!
Dreidel symbols may be hard to remember, so we’ve created this dreidel sides cheat sheet to make it easy for you!
Print out this Dreidel instructions printable with the rules for Dreidel so that everyone can see them as they play!
Have fun celebrating Hanukkah!