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OT: Slightly OT: dreidel question

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 27, 2005, 18:17
I'm a bit confused about the history of the dreidel and its association with
Hanukkah.  I know the dreidel was originally a gambling device (the original
d4, in D&D terms).   I know that in the context of the Hanukkah game, the
four letters stand for the Yiddish words for "Nothing", "Everything",
"Half", and "Put" or "Pay", while in the larger context of Hanukkah itself
they are construed as an acronym for the Hebrew phrase "A great miracle
happened here/there".

But which came first?  I have found explanations that give both directions -
that the game started with the Yiddish letters which were then reinterpreted
as the acronym, or that they started with the acronym and then developed the
game mechanics to match.  The latter interpretation seems to be more common,
but the information I've found so far is lacking in detail.

I don't know how old the association is, but if it dates back to the
beginning of the Hanukkah custom, then I don't think Yiddish existed yet?

Sorry for my confusion, but my Google-fu has failed me here.  Any pointers

Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>


Markus Miekk-oja <m13kk0@...>
Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>