Now before you think that I mean the Lottery … not really, I am talking about the one game that has been able to keep our Mexican culture alive … Loteria! At first glance, you see a simple card game with pictures of ‘La Muerte’, ‘El Musico’, ‘La Rosa’, ‘La Bandera’ and more…but as you get a game going…you find that everyone wants to play, young and old, those who speak Spanish, those who do not, those who can read, those who cannot…but the most fun part is the actual ‘hanging out’ with familia and friends! I always carry around a bag of beans so that everyone can mark their cards como debe de ser con frijoles which is always fun — especially to see those who have never really played Loteria before.
My familia plays Loteria at nearly all of the fam parties and it is hilarious to listen to the ‘old school’ our parents, tios, tias, grandparents as we play … one of them will ALWAYS break out with a family story from Mexico which will have us on the ground laughing, another will recite the actual ‘refranes’ sayings that come with each Loteria card – like when I call out EL SOL (The Sun), it is almost inevitable that I’ll hear ‘la cobija de los pobres’ (the blanket of the poor) said right back to me and the cute thing, is that they don’t even realize that they are doing it! One of the kids will always ask to see the card especially if they don’t know how to speak Spanish. So this tells me that this game goes back not just a few years, but entire generations of my familia have enjoyed sitting around the table playing Loteria.
When someone wins, especially the little ones, we don’t let them yell out ‘Bingo’ or ‘I win!’ they have to yell out ‘Loteria!’ or ‘Buena!’ aaaand they have to read out the names of their winning card in Spanish — and they all love it because, without throwing culture in their face, they are learning about Mexico and learning basic words in Spanish — and it’s so fun to watch the old school’s eyes light up when the littles are making their best effort to speak Spanish! Ssoooo important for us to pass cultura on to our future generations!
One of my favorite times playing Loteria was in Sacramento with my friends, at our apartment on College Town Drive, para que les miento, we were drinking and playing loteria. Our friend Sergio was calling the cards, and ‘La Botella’ comes up — now mind you, we are all into the game and not even looking up to check out the card, so when he calls out ‘El Catsup’, all you see is la bola de gente the bunch of us looking around our cards like crazy trying to find a ketchup bottle! After we figured it out and Sergio was there todo riendose laughing at us, we totally called him every cuss word for about 5 minutes, had a great laugh, took yet another drink, and continued playing the game!
I am the one who usually calls the games now and it’s so much fun to watch the fam or friends enjoying spending time with each other and usually yelling at me to shuffle the cards more or something like that…love it that we have fun hanging out together!