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Loteria, Quarantine, and Video-Chats | Ole Rico

Loteria, Quarantine, and Video-Chats


It’s mid-afternoon, the house has been dusted, mopped, and wiped from surface to surface. Besides the sounds of Sabado Gigante playing in the living room TV, there was not much going on. Even after taking my second nap of the day, being under quarantine really had me stretching things to do throughout the day. But this weekend, everything on our to-do list was done. After rearranging the furniture around the house, my sister and I decided to reorganize our movie/game mini cabinet. In a box of random game pieces, we found a stack of Loteria cards - a game we’d take to family sunday cookouts. We ran upstairs, like little kids finding a new toy to play, told our mom which led to her calling our tia and cousins and soon, we started organizing a small video chat. 

Loteria which comes from the term “lotto”, dates back to 15th century Italy. Historians are still unsure who exactly created the game because the game was wildly popular. Although they did discover the game was originally a hobby for the upper class, by then the game took off and became a tradition. The game had found its way to Mexico and was published by a man named Don Clemente Jacques in the late 1800s. Similar to BINGO, Loteria is played by drawing cards until one player marks four in a row. Traditionally, the way players mark their cards is by using beans or pennies. But, over the years I’ve personally used and seen people use bottle caps, fish stones, dried pieces of corn and other small items. The moment you have four in a row, you have to yell “¡Loteria!” (I’ve heard people say ¡Buenas! too) and that's the game. You can make the game a little more competitive by adding money value to it. For example, with my family we play a quarter per card played, winning a good couple of dollars (if you’re lucky). 

Overall, the game is fun, inviting and family-friendly. After my mom set up our video-chat with other members, we played for several hours. We took turns shuffling our personal deck of cards, laughed over any connectivity issues, especially when one of us yelled Loteria! The ambiance of togetherness felt stronger as we connected with others, and for a few hours we enjoyed the moment. And while you may feel like you just can’t catch a break, the enticement of yelling “¡Loteria!” will defeat any sense of loss as you claim victory.

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