Spanish Language Blog

Christmas lottery and the Children of San Ildefonso Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in Spanish Culture

If the world doesn’t end in December 21st (as some people say), most of us will be listening to a very famous group of children very early on Saturday morning: the children of San Ildefonso.

Christmas traditions are full of delicious food and sweets such as nougat and mantecados (Christmas sweet made from flour, almonds and lard), champagne and cava, Christmas carols sung in family, but also the tender voice of these children singing out our luck in the form of lottery numbers. So it is not in December 24th, but in December 22nd that our Christmas period starts.

The School of San Ildefonso, the oldest primary school in Madrid, is devoted to children whose families can’t afford their education. This lottery tradition started about two centuries ago, when a seven year-old boy from this institution drew and sang out the first prize. Twenty boys a long time ago, and boys and girls nowadays, with the best pronunciation and a good timbre, are chosen to take the lottery numbers from the lottery drum and read them. They will also be in the front page of magazines and newspapers telling us their anecdotes and experiences during the draw with the winner numbers in their hands.

One of my dearest memories in relation to Christmas time is the image of my father listening to the radio, writing down all the numbers carefully, to give them to my mum, who used to call all the family to know if they had gotten any prize, or at least if they had good health.

And who knows…  maybe this year I have a lucky number this year!

Si el mundo no termina el próximo 21 de diciembre (como alguna gente cuenta), muchos de nosotros estaremos escuchando el sábado por la mañana tempranito a un grupo de niños muy famosos: los niños de San Ildefonso.

Las tradiciones navideñas están llenas de comida deliciosa y dulces como el turrón y los mantecados, el champán y el cava, los villancicos cantados en familia, pero también  de la tierna voz de estos niños cantando nuestra suerte en forma de números de lotería. Por lo tanto, no es el 24 de diciembre que comienza nuestra época navideña, sino el 22.

El colegio de San Ildefonso, el colegio más antiguo de primaria en Madrid, está centrado en niños cuyas familias no pueden costear su educación. Esta tradición de la lotería comenzó hace aproximadamente dos siglos, cuando un chaval de esta institución, con siete años, sacó y cantó el primer premio. Veinte niños hace tiempo, y chicos y chicas hoy día, con la mejor pronunciación y un buen timbre de voz, son elegidos para sacar los números del bombo, y leerlos. También estarán en las portadas de revistas y periódicos, contándonos sus anécdotas y experiencias durante el sorteo y con los números ganadores en la mano.

Uno de mis recuerdos más entrañables relacionados con la Navidad es la imagen de mi padre oyendo la radio, anotando cuidadosamente cada número, para dárselos a mi madre, quien solía llamar a toda la familia para saber si les había tocado algún premio, o al menos gozaban de buena salud.

Y quién sabe, ¡quizá este año lleve un número de la suerte!

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!


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