The Spanish Christmas Lottery

Written by JR Hartley
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The Spanish Christmas Lottery officially referred to as el Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad and casually known as the El Gordo (the Big One), is one of the world’s largest lottery draws. The event which has happened every year on  22nd December, which  dates back to the 18th century when King Carlos III brought in the fundraising tradition for Spanish troops from Naples.

In the early days of the Christmas lottery, dozens of people from all over Spain lined up in Sort, a small mountain town, where they would purchase their lottery tickets in the hope that the place and the people will live up to the tradition. Although people no longer travel to Sort for this annual tradition, every other Spanish town has lottery booths where people purchase tickets. At no time over the decades, including the early 20the century when a global flu pandemic that decimated Spain’s population did the tradition prevent Spaniards from participating in the tradition.

Must-know Terms for the Spanish Christmas Lottery

Before rushing out to purchase a full lottery ticket, you will need to understand a few terms used in the lottery that will help you in purchasing the €200 ticket at the lowest price possible.

• Billete: A full lottery ticket
• Decimos: One-tenth of a full lottery ticket trading for €20
• Número: Five-digit number on the ticket that determines the winners
• Participación: A lesser fraction of the decimo offered at a relatively lower price usually by small businesses, bars, and restaurants.
• Series: A set of billete bearing the same numero

A Wartime Fundraiser to Festive Tradition

In spite of the cheerful mood that the lottery educes in Spain, its roots have a darker past since it was initially launched as a fundraiser program to collect funds to support the Spanish troops battling against Napoleon armies. The state-sponsored lottery event has suppressed the test of time, particularly during the Spanish civil war when the republican government moved the state’s capital from Madrid to Valencia in the 1930s. Francisco Franco, in his 36-years of dictatorial rule, suppressed all cultural events and traditions that he did not consider intrinsically Spanish but El Gordo made a cut together with flamenco dances and bullfights.

Few countries in the world embrace state-sponsored gambling with similar passion and commitment as Spain. The jackpot prize coupled with the Christmas holiday cheer, and melodies from Madrid’s San Ildefonso School pupils make the annual draw an important part of the Christmas tradition in Spain. This year, the lottery will dole out €2.38 billion to thousands of participants for as little as €10 and the grand win of €4 million. During the broadcast of the draw, two uniformed schoolchildren will sing the ball’s number and the corresponding prize amount every time a ball is dispensed from the tumbler.

The Christmas Spirit of Sharing

Being one of the world’s largest gambling events, the Spanish Christmas Lottery embraces the Christmas custom of sharing. You would probably be thinking that €4 million is not something to scoff about for a lottery jackpot. It is not, since most people with the winning tickets only get a tenth of the total amount which id bewildering. Therefore, what makes the lottery appealing is not the final prize but the feeling of sharing the prize with family and friends.

A complete lottery ticket goes for €200, which you will not afford on a normal day or would not purchase if you are not interested in gambling. However, each ticket is divided into décimos of €20 each. Every décimo has a five-digit numero which is normally repeated regularly across a series of full tickets. As such, the prize is divided among the people holding tickets bearing the five-digit code. In the Christmas spirit, you can group yourselves as family members, friends, neighbours, or colleagues to purchase full tickets for a decimo and share the overall prize. If you do not have the €20 to purchase the ticket with friends, shop, bars, and restaurants will be offering participaciones for lesser amounts.

Read 2291 times Last modified on Friday, 20 December 2019 21:13
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JR Hartley

JR Hartley

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