The Little Dreydl (Dreidel) Song And Game

The winter months bring lots of exciting holiday preparations to almost every home. If you celebrate Hanukkah, it’s time to think about gathering with friends and family, making delicious foods such as latkes, lighting the menorah, and playing a game with a little spinning top. Even if your children are small, the sights, smells and sounds of this holiday will surely fill them with wonder and joy!

One of my favorite Hanukkah songs is heard all over the world. It starts with the words:

I have a little dreydl (or driedel),
I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready
A dreydl I will play

The word dreydl (or dreidel) comes from the Yiddish word – dreyen – meaning to spin. It’s spelled several different ways because many Hebrew letters and sounds are not the same as in English, so people have attempted to write out words that capture the sounds in different ways. For that reason, you may see the word Hanukkah written as Chanukah, Chanukkah or Chanuka as well.

So, what about this pretty little top? The next verse of the song tells you how it is decorated:

My dreydl has four corners
And a letter on each face
To remind us if the miracle
That long ago took place

Each one of the dreydl’s sides has a special letter.  More or less, they can be translated as:

Sham (or Shin)        There, (meaning it happened there in Israel)
Haya –(or Hay)          Happened
Gadol –(or Gimel)          Great
Nes- (or Nun)          Miracle

And what happens when you song and the top lands on one of the sides?  The song has a verse to explain that as well:

The letters also tell us
Who will lose or win
I have a pile of goodies (walnuts)
I’m ready, let’s begin

All players start with goodies such as candies, nuts or special money called Hanukkah gelt.  Then as they spin, each letter shows if you’ve won, lost or passed your turn.  Here’s what each letter means:

Nes- (or Nun)        Do nothing, pass your turn
Sham (or Shin)        Add one treat to the pot
Haya –(or Hay)          Get half the pot
Gadol –(or Gimel)        Get everything in the pot

Although this is a simple song, it really does conjure up holiday magic for young and old alike.  Whether you’re spinning tops or preparing a family feast, singing even the simplest of holiday songs is a beautiful way to celebrate a holiday like this with those you love!

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DARIA’s Oh Dreydl video
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52p0NGhQfPI?rel=0&w=500&h=375]

DARIA’s Ocho Candelikas video – A Hanukkah Song from Spain
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eobjFKNnMOg?rel=0&w=500&h=375]

Oh Dreydl – Free Lyric Sheet
http://www.dariamusic.com/dreydl.php

Print Out – Play The Dreydl Game
http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/dreydl.pdf

Download Oh Dreydl on Itunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/celebrate-season-multicultural/id344193347

Download Oh Dreydl on Amazon mp3:
http://amzn.com/B00302OL1E

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0 Responses to The Little Dreydl (Dreidel) Song And Game

  1. Thank you for taking time to tell us about the dreidel! My family celebrates Christmas but I remember learning some of this in school and even making our own little dreidels and playing the game.

  2. Thank you for sharing this game. I know the song but I never knew what the letters meant or how to play the game. This will be so much fun to play with my kids when they learn about Hanukkah.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this on the Culture Swapper! I also remember learning some about this at school when I was a kid, but I didn’t remember how to play the game or all the meaning behind the symbols. This will be so much fun to play with my son, thank you! Will be featuring you on my Facebook page tomorrow! http://www.facebook.com/alldonemonkey

  4. And Daria is one of our favorite musicians! I love both of these songs!! You can read our review of her holiday album here: http://alldonemonkey.com/2012/11/30/holiday-music-review-darias-songs-for-merry-multicultural-mirth/

  5. Pingback: Celebrating Holiday Traditions With Song! | Making Multicultural Music

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