A dreidel is an ancient four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter printed on each side. The letters – nun, gimel, hay, and shin – form an acronym that means Nes Gadol Haya Sham, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to the Miracle of the Oil which burned for eight days in the Temple’s menorah instead of just one – the reason for Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. You can make your own dreidel and play the game this Hanukkah season. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Small empty paper milk carton, washed and dried
- Popsicle stick
- Knife (for use by a grown-up!)
- Close the opening on your paper milk carton and tape it shut with sturdy tape.
- Use the knife to make a small cut in the bottom of the carton. (A grown-up should complete this step.)
- Insert the popsicle stick into the cut.
- Choose your favorite paint color and add some glue to it.
- Paint the carton and popsicle stick.
- Allow the carton to dry to completely. We stuck ours in a styrofoam cup to protect the sides so they’d dry evenly.
- Add the letter Nun to one side with glue and coat with glitter.
- Add the letter Hay to another side with glue and coat with glitter.
- Add the letter Gimel to another side with glue and coat with glitter.
- Add the letter Shin to the remaining side with glue and coat with glitter.
- Allow the glue to try, then play the game!
How to play the Dreidel game:
- Each player begins with an equal number of game pieces called “gelt,” which means money or gold in Yiddish. You can use coins, pieces of candy, raisins – whatever you have available – for your game pieces.
- At the beginning of each round, each player puts a game piece in the pot. Players should also add a game piece to the pot whenever it is empty or only has one piece left.
- Each player gets a turn to spin the dreidel. If it lands on Nun, the player receives nothing. If it lands on Hay, the player takes half of what’s in the pot. If it lands on Gimel, the player takes all of the pot, and if it lands on Shin, the player puts one game piece into the pot.
- If a player has no pieces left, they are out (although the can take out loans from other players to prolong their stay in the game). When one player wins everything, the game is over.
Originally written for and posted on the now-defunct My OH! Momma website.