I am sure many of you have seen long queues close to lottery offices here in Barcelona these days.
The reason is the Spain’s beloved Christmas lottery which gives out the biggest lottery worldwide - 2,520,000,000 Euros this year!
Yes, that’s 2.5 Billion Euros!
On 22nd December, most of Spaniards are glued to the TV watching the Christmas lottery (Lotería de Navidad in Spanish), also commonly known as “El Gordo” – the ‘ fat one ‘ or the ‘ big one’.
This draw is called el gordo because it is the most money played in Spain in the whole year.
The Spanish lottery dates back to 1812 and it is the oldest in the world.
Lotería de Navidad works differently to most lotteries in the world. Tickets are very expensive, but you do not have to buy the entire ticket. But, if you don’t buy the whole thing, you can’t get all the winnning!
Spanish people play the “gordo” as an old Christmas tradition. Everyone gets at least one lottery ticket like the one in the picture (decimo). They cost 20 euros each, and if you buy ten of them, you have the billete which is for “el gordo” and its cost is 200 Euros.
The day of the draw, people gather around the TV or radio to watch if for the whole morning. The children of a school in Madrid sing the winning numbers. They have been practicing during all the year for this day. The children who sing the “gordo” become famous for one day!
According to reports in the press, about 98 per cent of all Spanish people hold at least a small portion of a lottery ticket in the Christmas Lottery each year.
You do not have to be a Spanish national to play el gordo. You can get Christmas lottery tickets in different places: If you want to get a ‘decimo’, you would have to go to the Lottery offices. If you just want little ‘participaciones’ on different numbers, you can get them in bars, restaurants, shops, and other public places.
Spaniards are very superstitious when it comes to picking the lottery numbers. Last year the number 11710 was sold in two hours and it was symbolic because it is the date when Spain won the World Cup in South Africa on 11th July 2010 – as the number 11710.
There are some lottery offices which become famous for ‘giving out’ the number of the ‘Gordo’ or other big prizes in a certain year. In Barcelona, there is a very popular Lottery Office just off Plaza Cataluña where a lot of people get a ticket from: ‘El Gato Negro’ (The black cat). On Saturday I passed nearby and the queue was up to Pl. Catalunya!!!
And there is a very popular village in Lérida, near Barcelona, called ‘Sort’ (Luck), where lots of people from all over Spain go every year to get their lucky lottery number in ‘La Bruja de Oro’ (The Golden Witch)! It is said that this ticket office is the luckiest one in Spain…
Why not try el gordo this year???