La Loteria Mexicana
You might recognize some of the pictures, you may have heard of it, or you may have even played the game… and it’s no surprise as Mexican Loteria is a staple in many homes.
Personally, I grew up playing this game. When the cousins or friends would come over, we’d run around playing hide and go seek, tag, or, our favorite, Gallinita Ciega (Blind Hen) until we’d tire out or our parents made us come inside. Then our parents would sit us around the table, take out Loteria and beans, and the next round of fun would begin. Looking back, I feel like they knew exactly what they were doing, as we could sit there playing for hours, while they relatively relaxed.
When we played, everyone always had their favorite card, mine was La Chalupa. Something about a beautiful, traditionally dressed Mexican woman, rowing a small canoe-like boat (chalupa), filled with flowers and fruits, made me want to be her. Then there were cards that would get a giggle out of us all like El Borracho or La Sirena. We’d all take turns being El Cantor (the person who calls out the cards) and we’d play until someone had to go back home. Definitely a nostalgic part of my life.
So how does one play Loteria you may ask? Well, to put it simply, it’s a bingo style game. Similar to bingo, the players can choose their playing board (again everyone has their favorite). The playing board is a 4x4 grid for a total of 16 squares. Each playing card, will have a different mix of colorful, whimsical and traditional images of animals, characters, objects, plants, etc. Once every player has chosen their playing card, and agreed on the objective to win (complete a row, column, diagonal, all four corners, etc.) the game begins. El cantor will shuffle the deck of cards, and call out the images. Now, a big part of the fun of the game comes from the cantor. The cantor needs to put on a show, sometimes they use classic phrases to describe the cards, other times they make jokes. But their job is to keep the players entertained until someone wins. Once someone completes their table, they must shout “Loteria!” as a sign of their win.
Now, I know I talked about my childhood in this game, but this game can be enjoyed in a family setting and is also a crowd pleaser with adults. For those learning Spanish, it is also a great opportunity to practice different spanish words, idioms and phrases. It is definitely a multi-faceted game, and one that should be included in your game night rotation. But for those who love or know someone who loves this beloved game, we got some great ornaments for you!