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The Spinning Top and the Rapa Game

This children’s toy goes back to ancient times and is very famous in Portugal. It comes with a rope that must be tightly rolled around the wooden spinning top and thrown to the floor with a rapid movement, to make sure it will spin and dance for as long as possible. The spinning tops picked by A Vida Portuguesa are handmade in the region of Barcelos, in Northern Portugal. All you need to play Rapa is a dice (this particular one, with a letter on each side) and a handful of dry beans, coins, pebbles or whatever you find appropriate. Each player contributes with a bean to start the game and throws the dice. The way the dice falls determines the fate of the players. The letter T means “Take” and the player takes away one bean. The letter P requires the player to “Place” another bean on the table. The D stands for “Leave” (“Deixa” in Portuguese) and every-thing stays the same. R means “Rapa” (clean up) and the player takes all the beans that are left on the table. Rapa is a traditional Portuguese game that some believe goes back to the traditional Jewish “dreidel”. The rapa dice sold at A Vida Portuguesa is handmade in the Barcelos region.

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