By Daniel Infante Tuaño
SPAIN – As Christmas gets closer and closer, queues are getting longer and longer at lottery stores in Spain.
Lotería de Navidad or Christmas lottery has become part of the Spanish Christmas celebration, with many hoping for a stroke of luck that can allow them to write off their mortgage, travel the world, start a business or just have some money to make ends meet amid a struggling Spanish economy.
No wonder the lottery’s annual TV commercials always have a pinch of magic and fantasy depicting the magic of the holiday season and the fantasy of winning the jackpot prize.
This year’s TV ad showcases renowned Spanish music artists like operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé, balladeer Raphael, flamenco singer Niña Pastori, and pop singers Marta Sanchez and David Bustamante singing under a giant illuminating Christmas tree made of golden raffle drums.
Watch the TV ad
“The lottery in Spain allows people to dream for a while, especially people who are in need, who really need money,” said Joan Petit, manager of a lottery store Administración de Lotería n.76 in Barcelona.
The chances of winning this year’s 4 million euro (about P243,440,000) jackpot prize are almost nil, nonetheless, every year somebody wins; sometimes even an entire town can get very lucky.
Seeing a group of people rejoicing and splashing champagne on national TV drives people more to bet in groups. Restaurant owners and their regular customers, an entire neighborhood or co-workers reserve and buy tickets as early as September.
Patricia Ortiz, an employee of an international company in Barcelona, bought tickets for more than 60 co-workers.
“Companies (in Spain) usually offer lottery tickets and usually employees are very responsive to that because everyone wants to get a ticket just in case we get the prize everybody wins, so you’re not the one that didn’t buy the ticket.”
Barcelona-based Batangueños Felix de Castro and his wife Elizabeth Caringal are also trying their luck so they joined a long Saturday morning queue to buy a ticket at 20 euros apiece from one administración de lotería in Calle Pelayo in Barcelona.
“Tatlong taon akong tumataya dahil talagang ito na lang ang inaasahan ko. Hangga’t walang magandang trabaho, dito ako nagbabakasakali,” de Castro said.
His pregnant wife Elizabeth might bring in more luck as Spaniards believe that rubbing the ticket over her baby bump is lucky. If there is no pregnant woman around, one can rub it over a bald man’s head or over a figurine witch’s nose warts.
Some believe that certain numbers are luckier than the others. Some people don’t want zeros or identical numbers in the five-digit ticket number said Petit.
Petit further said that buyers prefer numbers 13, 69, 3, 5 and 7. Like in other numbers game, some choose tickets based on their birth date or wedding date.
And with the recent demise of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, his prison ID number 46664 was among the most sought-after among lottery players.
On December 22, the day of the raffle draw, Spain will stay glued to their TV sets waiting for the children of Colegio de San Ildefonso in Madrid belt out winning lottery numbers.
For centuries, the niños de San Ildefonso have been singing prized numbers lotto bettors would consider the best Christmas carols they have ever listened to. ABS-CBNnews.com 7
Watch this related TV report in Filipino language, aired on Balitang Europe, The Filipino Channel, ABS-CBN: