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Thursday, December 22, 2016
December 22nd, Mid Winter or Winter Solstice is the shortest day of light and the longest day of darkness. However, it is also the only day of the year that we can absolutely count on nothing but good evening television news. We just don't want to hear any bad news at all. This is the day when Spain's El Gordo Lottery draw takes place and 2.5 billion euros is distributed over 15.000 prizes. However, because these prizes are broken down into small shares no-one has any idea of how many people actually share in it.
Firstly, the system is totally secure from corruption. In a world that is so corrupt, that is really something. Secondly, it is also totally socialist in its structure. No one can win the lion's share for himself. Unlike other lotteries where there is a jackpot and one person gets to walk away with (sometimes) over a hundred million Pounds or Dollars, not so with El Gordo. (No-one needs to win that type of money.) It is intended that the amounts available to be won might pull you out of debt, or even assure you that you can live modestly for the rest of your life with careful planning.
The news hour has now finished for the day and we have been treated to images of people all over the country crying with tears of joy and dancing in the streets because they are feeling so high with pure and unadulterated happiness. Their number was called, especially for the major prizes in spite of that being an improbable thing. Every year the same thing happens and nothing gets rolled over. All the prize money is distributed with 99% of the residents participating. Even those of us who didn't win a thing still see it as good news because every year we do not win brings us closer to the year when we will.
The event generates its own human interest stories, such as 90% of the residents of an old folks home bought into the event, and won. Their average age was 90 and they won 400,000 euros per ticket. One old dear held three tickets. Don't you just love it!
One family, like so many others in Spain were all out of work, but they won enough money between them to redeem their dignity.
A few years ago a small village of 250 farmers all bought tickets with the same number. The number won second prize of euros 125,000 each ticket. (You could have held several tickets.) The twist in this story is that all enjoyed winnings except the one person who didn't believe in these things. He was a foreigner, but by all accounts he seems to be ok with the outcome.
It is gambling, which is to normally be discouraged. Many people in Spain play the lottery, and while I'm sure that a few go overboard the average person bets something modest, such as 5.00 euros on a line of numbers that might give a reasonable little lift to one's finances. It's really about hope, because life without hope; something to look forward to would be intolerable.
In a joking frame of mind I always say that one day I'm going to hit the lottery in a big way. When that happens I do hope I will get all of my money back.
Maybe, but hope springs eternally.
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