hist-games: Dreydel

Loud Creek Books & Bindery loudcreek at worldnet.att.net
Sun Oct 1 14:59:11 PDT 2000

Both the Jewish Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Judaica indicate that
Dreydel appears in Germany, Austria and Poland ca. 1000. Other names would
be trendel and the German drehen. Traditionally played at Hanukkah for small
tokens (playing for money not being allowed) the early versions were caved
out of wood or were cast from lead.

The four sides of the top/trendel/tee-totum/dreydel carry the Hebrew letters
Nun, Gimmel, He & Shin. Standing for the Yiddish words Nimm (take), Gib
(Give), Halb (half) & Shtell (put) OR standing for the Yiddish Nichts
(nothing), Ganz (all), Halb (half) & Shtell (put). Either way it works out
about the same.

To keep a certain amount of religious meaning in the dreydel the letters can
be taken to mean Nes Gadol Hayah Sham (A great miricle happened there) and
in Israel the later is changed to Po for A great miricle happened here.

I need to find my copy of Güdemann to give the original inquiry more detail.
That will be forth coming.

Kurt Klappenbach
Loud Creek Books & Bindery
P.O. Box 8120
Bangor, ME   04402-8120
loudcreek at att.net

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