Spanish Christmas Games

Ever wondered how the Spanish celebrate Christmas? What are their famous games and activities on Christmas? How do they play? Our guide to Christmas games in Spain gives you the facts & information you want to know.

The greatest game of the season is the Spanish Christmas Lottery. In fact, traditional Spanish Christmas starts on December 22nd when the lottery draw takes place. Also Known as the Loteria de Navidad or Sorteo de Navidad in Spanish, it has got the reputation of being the world’s biggest lottery, if measured by the total prize payout.


This national lottery game has been being organized since 1812. There is a specific department in the Spanish public administration which is responsible for holding the lottery and for distributing the prizes as well. This department or branch is called Loterias y Apuestas del Estado.

Playing Methods

Nowadays the Christmas lottery tickets are made available as early as August.  These tickets are made available for sale from various private as well as other organizations.  The tickets have five digits and have many serial numbers, so various series of a single set of numbers are sold multiple times.

The entire tickets being expensive are sold as tenths. The number of tickets and their series are different each year.

The popularity of this lottery game can be seen by the fact that even the people who do not buy big, play in fractions. It has become more of a tradition and a custom as almost 98% of the total population takes part in this lottery. Sometimes these lottery tickets are even presented as gifts.

The Draw Procedures

Effort has been made to keep the draw process as close to the original draws dating back in 1812.

During the draw two big spherical vessels are used out of which one has been filled with several thousands small wooden balls indicating all ticket numbers while the other one contains fewer wooden balls, showing the prizes to be drawn.

The draw takes place in the Lotería Nacional hall of Madrid. It has been the custom that pupils of the San Ildefonso school which at one time was the home to the orphans of public servants draw the numbers and corresponding prizes and they sing to declare the results.

These days Televisión Española and Radio Nacional de España broadcast this event live and usually the session lasts for three hours. The chances of winning any prize have been estimated at 15%. People who win big are of course happy, but people who win small usually invest in the upcoming lottery while people who lose take it light heartedly.

What is Al-Gordo?

The term Al-Gordo has become famous all over the world. It is widely misunderstood as the name of the lottery itself but it actually is used for the prizes of first category and roughly translates as the big one. Many foreigners in Spain at the time of lottery are drawn to the magic of this Christmas Lottery and gamble as well. After all, it’s the magic of Christmas!!!

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