Lotería de Navidad—Spain’s Communal Christmas Lottery

If you’re out and about in Spain on December 22, you may be the only one. Everyone else in the country will be tuned in to hear the winning numbers of the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad sung by students of the San Ildefonso school.

On the Second Day of Imported Christmas, we didn’t fly to Spain to buy lottery tickets (though that would have been amazing). But we did purchase lottery tickets in Idaho with the same number in honor of Spain’s communal Christmas lottery tradition.

The weekly Lotería Nacional is a proud Spanish tradition that has lasted for over two centuries so far, making it the second-longest continuously running lottery in the world (younger only than the Dutch National Lottery). The Christmas lottery is by far the most popular draw, with as many as 75% of Spaniards participating and some shops bringing in 50% of their annual revenue on sales of tickets for this one event.

What makes this lottery so unique is that there are only 100,000 total ticket numbers. In order to meet demand, multiple series of the same number are sold, often in the exact same store. This gives family, friends, and even entire towns the option to all purchase tickets with the same number and, if their number is lucky, share the winnings. This has led to tales of people who failed to purchase a ticket being the only ones in their group (or even town) who don’t get a piece of El Gordo (first prize). For families and communities who all participate, there is the bonus of sharing your good fortune with friends and neighbors.

The closest we could get to this lovely tradition was driving to Idaho and buying two Powerball tickets that had the same number. We didn’t win, but imagine the mutual joy if we had.

Interested in learning about more international Christmas traditions? Follow our 12 Days of Imported Christmas:

Twelve Days of Imported Christmas

  1. The First Day: Chichilaki—Georgia’s Shaved Christmas Tree
  2. The Second Day: Lotería de Navidad—Spain’s Communal Christmas Lottery
  3. The Third Day: Stargazy Pie—Cornwall’s Town-Saving Fish Dish
  4. The Fourth Day: Rellenong Manok—The Phillipines’ Elaborately Stuffed Christmas Chicken
  5. The Fifth Day: Himmeli—Finland’s Geometric Straw Ornaments
  6. The Sixth Day: Figgy Pudding—England’s Fiery Festive Centerpiece
  7. The Seventh Day: Glückspilz—Germany’s Lucky Mushroom
  8. The Eighth Day: Pumpple Cake—Philadelphia’s Quadruple Dessert
  9. The Ninth Day: Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece
  10. The Tenth Day: Julkalender—Sweden’s Serialized TV Christmas Countdown
  11. The Eleventh Day: Peppermint Pig—Saratoga’s Shattered Sow
  12. The Twelfth Day: Ursul—Romania’s Bear Dance Festival

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