What is a Gelt Drop?  The Gelt Drop is a newer tradition in the Jewish faith, whereby gelt - usually in the form of chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil, is dropped from a high place (often the top of a fire ladder) in a public place.

Gelt is the Yiddish word for money and, although there were no stories-high fire ladders in ancient times, the tradition of giving money during the holidays foes back centuries.  The gift of gelt is also meant to reward and teach children.  In the game of dreidel gelt is also used to for making bets and as prize money.

According to Jewish tradition those receiving gelt are supposed to donate a portion of it to charity.  In fact the fifth night of Hanukkah - there are eight days in the holiday -  focuses on good deeds.

In recent times those of the Jewish faith have held Gelt Drops in public places to encourage the celebration of Hanukkah as not only a symbol of religious significance and reflection, but also one of great joy.  In this way, some say, there can be an association with the same type of fun with which Christmas is regarded.  Celebrants of Christmas have also given chocolate coins for centuries, with coins wrapped in paper, tins, and eventually foil.

Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong, Getty Images
Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

Gelt Drops are becoming more and more popular around the world.  In the United States local fire departments have participated in the drops in an effort to promote a sense of community and tolerance.

Chinese Celebrate New Year
FILE PHOTO : SHANGHAI, CHINA - FEBRUARY 1: (CHINA OUT) A man dressed as the God of Fortune hands out chocolate gold coins to a company employee February 1, 2006 in Shanghai, China. Many Chinese companies have kept the tradition alive at the beginning of the new year. Chinese people are celebrating the lunar New Year of the Dog. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Foil-wrapped coins are also used to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

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