There’s two sides to every story and four sides to every Dreidel! And today we are uncovering some little known facts about this Holiday icon that will (forgive us for the dad joke) make your head spin!
While gelt can definitely win the game, you’ll have to get a whole lot of it to purchase this precious toy! The most valuable dreidel is valued at $70,000 and was created by Estate Diamond Jewelry in New York City in 2019! It is made with 18K yellow gold, 18K white gold and features a 4.20-carat round brilliant cut diamond at the top!
2. COMPETITIVE DREIDELING IS A REAL THING!
Yes, every year Dreidel players from all over the country come out with one shared objective: Spin it to win it! One organization entitled Major League Dreidel created a model arena called the “Spinagogue” which allows spinners of all ages to test out their skills and hit a new record! Competitive events are often held throughout the New York area where competitors compete under hilarious names like “Oscar De La Menorah,” “Juspin Bieber” and “Spincredible Hulk!” For these determined players it’s, “No Gelt, No Glory!”
3. DREIDELS WERE USED DURING CHRISTMASSTIME TOO!
Historically, it is unclear where the dreidel first came from. There’s a school of thought that says the Jews first used these spinning tops during the time when the Greeks outlawed Torah study. They would have the dreidels at hand and make it look like they were gambling instead of studying. That way, Greek authorities would leave them alone if caught. It’s hard to say how accurate this narrative is though. Other scholars believe the spinning top originated in India before making its way to Europe. Most scholars today believe the spinning top originated in England or Ireland before making its way to Germany, where it was then introduced to the Jewish people and infused into Yiddish culture. Coincidentally, by the 19th century, the game was played around Christmastime, with sides reading “T” for “Take All,” “H” for “Take Half,” “P” for “Put Down” and “N” for “Nothing.” The four letters adapted by the Jewish people represent a wide array of meanings: from the four kingdoms that tried to overtake us to the famous Hebrew phase of “A Great Miracle Happened There.” (Nes Gadol Haya Sham).
4. DREIDELS IN ISRAEL ARE DIFFERENT THAN THE ONES HERE … SORT OF.
Call it semantics or aesthetics, but the fours sides of the dreidel outside of Israel are a bit different than the ones that reside within the Holy Land. Why? Dreidels outside of Israel say, “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” or “A Great Miracle Happened There” while the dreidels in Israel say “Nes Gadol Haya Po” or “A Great Miracle Happened Here!”
5. THE YIDDISH DREIDEL WAS A BIT DIFFERENT, TOO!
Naturally, the Yiddish translation was a little more playful and actually aligned more closely with the European rules played by non-Jews around Christmastime. Since Yiddish and Hebrew use the same alphabet, the letters looked the same but the translations were totally different, with the Yiddish version pointing solely to the rules of the game. Gimel stood for “Gantz” or “whole,” “Halb” stood for “half,” “Nun” for “Nisht” or “nothing” and “Shin” for “Shtehl Einl” or “put back in.” Of course the items in reference were the gold coins, or gelt!
6. THERE ARE WORLD RECORDS FOR DREIDEL SPINNING!
In 2018, nearly 1,200 students and faculty members in New Jersey got together to break the unofficial world record for dreidels spinning simultaneously, with exactly 1,369 dreidels spinning at once. However, in 2011 the Guinness World Record for most dreidels spinning simultaneously for at least 10 seconds was obtained by 734 people, all who participated with the United Synagogue Youth in Philadelphia. Since there are variables like spin duration and participant amounts, it’s hard to say what the exact record is but considering how difficult it is to even get 10 people together today, both these records are pretty impressive to me!
THE WORLD RECORD FOR DREIDEL SPINNING IS HELD BY A PLAYER NICKNAMED “GELTA FORCE,” AND IS 18.03 SECONDS.
According to Eric Pavony, creator of the “Spinagogue” and founder of Major League Dreidel, the record-holder, who goes by “Gelta Force” exhibits a high level of “grace and finesse” that doesn’t call for too much movement in the arm or body.
And finally, despite what people may think, Dreidels spin more than Jewish moms on the Upper East Side do.
Though it is for only a concentrated and finite period of time, the amount of spin sessions a dreidel logs during the month of December outpaces almost any Soul Cycle go-er on record! LOL. Buy this adorable Dreidel on a Spin Bike card for Hanukkah!
And while you digest all these facts, make sure to check out our hilarious Big Dreidel Energy Hanukkah Card, Dreidel Puzzle, Funny Big Dreidel Energy Button Down, Big Dreidel Energy Boxers, and Dreidel wrapping paper!
Article written by: Sean Leviashvili