El Gordo Does Not Mean “The Fat One”

7 December 2015 1 Comments Category: Living in Spain

lotería de navidad

When you hear someone in Spain talking about “el gordo”, they aren’t bad mouthing the fat guy. They’re talking referring to the Spanish Christmas lottery, the most popular lottery drawing of the year in Spain. And when Spaniards say El Gordo, they mean “the first prize”, the jackpot. Today, we’ll fill you in on the history and curious facts of one of the world’s longest running lottery in the world!

According to one source, the Spanish Christmas lottery is the second longest continuously running one the world and that…

“includes the years during the Spanish Civil War, when the lottery draw was held in Valencia after the Republicans were forced to relocate their capital from Madrid. After the overthrow of the Republican government the lottery continued uninterrupted under the Franco regime.”

A Christmas lottery ticket (a billete) has 5 digit numbers and each one is printed up many times in different series numbers. A bit confusing we know but like we always say: Spain is different. Be aware, they are expensive. A Christmas lottery ticket (billete) costs €200. But don’t worry, tickets are usually sold in décimos (one tenth of a billete) which amounts to €20.

Official lottery stores all around the country have been selling décimos and billetes since the month of July but it is also common for bars, restaurants and offices to sell them too, hoping to win on December 22nd. The 2015 El Gordo prize amounts to 4.000.000 euros and according to a recent study, 40% of Spaniards would quit their jobs if they won the lottery this year. But keep in mind that Hacienda will keep 20% of the earnings.

Lotería de Navidad

Since 1771, the orphan children at the San Ildelfonso School in Madrid are the ones who literally sing the numbers one by one. It is televised of course and begins at 8am on December 22nd.

If you have already bought a décimo or a billete, there are certain things to consider, if you are as superstitious as most Spaniards are when it comes to the lottery.

Things that will bring good luck: Rubbing the tickets or décimos on a bald head, over a pregnant woman´s belly or a cat and walking into the lottery agency with your right foot first. Placing the lottery tickets near the figure of a saint or the Virgin Mary, rubbing it against parsley, coins or a flowerpot are all synonyms of good luck.

Things that bring bad luck include burning old décimos, refusing to buy low numbers and the most popular bad luck charm continues to be gifting lottery tickets to others.

Is there such a thing as a lucky number? Maybe. At least that is what 91,9% of Spaniards believe. They also believe that there are lottery administrations that bring the good luck and they will travel there from far away places to buy them. That is why there are endless lines of people waiting in queue at the four legendary lottery stores in Spain.

La Bruja de Oro en Sort in Lleida, Doña Manolita in Madrid, Valdés in Barcelona and Ormaechea in Bilbao.

Try your luck because you never know. Last year, El Gordo Christmas lottery handed out 2.5 million euros! Good luck!

See our Top 4 Cities to Spend the Holidays in Spain.

Photo Credits: Barcex via Flickr, Fotero via Flickr

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  1. Pingback: Spanish Holiday Traditions - Typical Non SpanishTypical Non Spanish

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