What is the Loteria de Navidad? Translated to English, it is quite simply put; The Chrismas Lottery. It is also known as the Extraordinary Christmas Lottery, or Christmas Draw. It is held on December Twenty Second of each year in Spain.
Since its inception in 1812, It is the second longest continually running lottery in the world. It even ran during the Spanish Civil War. (1936 – 1939)
The procedure for the lottery has been relatively unchanged for the two hundred plus years it has been held.
In the past it took place in the Lotería Nacional hall of Madrid, while in 2010 and 2011 it was celebrated in the Palacio Municipal de Congresos de Madrid, and in 2012 in Teatro Real in Madrid.
Pupils of the San Ildefonso school (which at one time was reserved for orphans of public servants) draw the numbers and corresponding prizes, and the rexults are sung aloud aloud in front of the public. Until 1984 only boys from San Ildefonso participated in the drawing; that year Mónica Rodríguez became the first girl to sing the results, including a fourth prize of 25 million Spanish pesetas.
It is a custom that the winners donate some of the money to the San Ildefonso school. The public attending the event may be dressed in lottery-related extravagant clothing and hats. Televisión Española and Radio Nacional de España, (which are state run) and other media outlets, broadcast the entire draw.
Two round containers are used. The big one contains 100,000 small wooden balls, each with a unique 5-digit number on it, from 00000 to 99999. The small vessel contains 1,807 small wooden balls, each one with a prize in Euros on it.
The the prizes are doled out:
1 ball for the first prize, called el Gordo.
1 ball for the second prize.
1 ball for the third prize.
2 balls for the fourth prizes.
8 balls for the fifth prizes.
1,794 balls for the small prizes, called la Pedrea, literally “the pebble-avalanche” or “stoning”
To ensure the weights are identical, the wooden balls are inscribed with a laser.
They weigh 3 g and have a diameter of 18.8 mm. Before being thrown into the vessels, the numbers are shown to the public for anyone to check that the balls with their numbers are not missing.
As the drawing goes on, one ball, and only one is extracted from each of the revolving containers at the same time. One child sings the winning number; the other child sings the corresponding prize. This is repeated until all the prize-balls have been drawn. One can imagine, due to the large number of prizes, this procedure takes several hours. The children work in about eight to nine shifts, equal to the number of frames of numbers to be drawn.
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