Chanuka Dish #5: The Jewish Fortune Cookie
Since it has just been scientifically proven in the“>My Jewish Learning, the dreidel most likely started as a 4-sided top that originated in England and Ireland in the 1500’s called a totum. The totum had the letters THPN, which stood for T= take all, H=Half, N= nothing and P=Put down, rules equivalent to that of playing the dreidel. The German version of the totum game had N for Nichts, meaning nothing, G for Ganz, meaning all, H for Halb, meaning half the pot, and S for Stell ein, or put money in the pot. The German name for the top was “torrel” or “trundle,” which , according to Golinkin, became “dreidel” in Yiddish, with Hebrew, rather than German, letters used.
Whatever its origin, the game of dreidel is a popular and enjoyable Chanuka game. And could win you a fortune, cookie.