The dreidel, known in Hebrew as a sevivon, dates back to the time of the Greek-Syrian rule over the Holy Land—which set off the Maccabean revolt that culminated in the Hanukkah miracle.
Learning Torah was outlawed by the enemy, a “crime” punishable by death. The Jewish children resorted to hiding in caves in order to study.
If a Greek patrol would approach, the children would pull out their tops and pretend to be playing a game. By playing dreidel during Chanukah we are reminded of the courage of those brave children.