The traditional Hanukkah dreidel (spinning top) dates back to the time before the Maccabees defeated when the Greek armies of King Antiochus.
Age range: 3 and up (young children might require assistance with spinning the dreidel)
- All players sit around the playing area.
- The "ante" or tokens (these can be any small objects, such as chocolate gelt, pennies, dried beans, or raisins) are divided equally among all players.
- Players take turns spinning the dreidel; the player with the highest spin has first turn. (Nun is highest, then Gimmel, Hey, and Shin.) If there is a tie, the two who tied spin again.
- Everyone puts one unit of the ante (penny, nut, etc.) into the pot.
- Play moves clockwise.
Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces (usually 10–15).
At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center "pot". Every player puts one in the pot after every turn.
Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. Depending on which side is facing up when the dreidel stops spinning, the player either gives or takes game pieces from the pot.
If the dreidel lands on a...
NUN - נ
If נ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing. The person to the left spins.
GIMMEL - ג
You get to take the whole pot!
Everyone, including the spinner, puts another ante unit into the pot, and the person to the left spins.
HEY - ה
The player gets half of the pieces in the pot. (If there are an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes the half the pot rounded up to the nearest whole number.)
SHIN - ש
Sorry! You now have to put another unit into the pot.
The game ends as soon as one of the following occurs:
- The sun comes up.
- All the latkes are gone.
- The players decide they have had enough.