Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters were originally a mnemonic for the rules of the game, standing for the Yiddish for "nothing", "half", "all", and "put in". However, they have been retroactively regarded to represent the Hebrew phrase nes gadol hayah sham ("a great miracle happened there").
While not a mandated mitzvah for Chanukah (the only traditional mitzvot are lighting candles and saying the full hallel), spinning the dreidel is a traditional game played during the holiday.
Dreidel in "In This Season"Edit
Puck, Poland's small Jewish community, maintaining only one step ahead of the Nazis, evacuated the city in December 1939 in a stolen fishing boat. The Jews were along able to bring along a few meager possessions, which included a set of Chanukah dreidels, popular with the children. Four-year-old Rachel Friedman proved to be the group's champion at the game. Her father Berel Friedman joked that she would soon be the boat's new owner.