Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spanish Christmas lottery

If you've seen the queues of people waiting to buy lottery tickets on the streets on Madrid, you might be curious what all the fuss is about. This special Christmas lottery draw (or Lotería de Navidad) has been taking place every year on 22nd December since 1812 and buying a ticket has become a very popular Christmas tradition in Spain. The tickets are sold in parts of ten, so if you only buy one tenth of a ticket, anything you win you share with the owners of the other nine parts of the ticket. Of course you can buy more than one tenth of the ticket or even the whole ticket to increase your winning odds. Each ticket has a unique number and many people request tickets bearing their lucky number. In fact some people travel across Spain just to find the ticket with the number they want. The tickets are rather expensive, with the entire ticket costing 200€ and each tenth 20€, however there is a jackpot (known as El Gordo) of around 3 million euros, so it's easy to see why so many Spanish people decide to try their luck. There are also many smaller prizes in addition to El Gordo, so there are a number of winners. The draw itself is another curiosity. It starts at around 9am and the whole draw lasts for several hours. Children from one of Madrid's oldest schools carry out the draw and sing the numbers as they are revealed. The draw can be watched live on television, and on that day many Spanish people are glued to their screens in the hope of winning a large cash sum.

Christmas lottery ticket

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