The Jewish festival of Hanukkah is being celebrated on Thursday, December 7 through Friday, December 15, 2023, making now the perfect time to learn more about the dreidel.

Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top game played during Hanukkah. Each side of the dreidel features a letter from the Hebrew alphabet to represent what a player will do when the dreidel lands on that side.

The game starts when each player puts a game piece – often candy or coins – into the center pot. Players take turns spinning the dreidel, then remove or add game pieces to the center pot, depending on which side of the dreidel is facing up when it stops spinning. One letter means that the player does nothing, another means they get the whole pot, one means they get half the pieces, and the last means the player adds a piece to the pot.

It was adapted from a game called totum or teetotum, which was first mentioned in the early 1500s, and was played in England and Ireland. From there, the game of totum made its way to Germany, and it adapted as the dreidel with Hebrew letters replacing other languages.

Not only is the dreidel a fun, traditional game played during Hanukkah, it has become a collectible. Dreidel collections are housed in Jewish institutions like the Temple Emanu-El in New York and the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. According to the Guinness World Records, the most valuable dreidel is the Estate Diamond Jewelry dreidel valued at $70,000. Constructed of 18k gold, it has 222 diamonds inlaid in the symbols and the tip is a 4.20 carat diamond.