The Hailey Public Library and Neighbors Helping Neighbors are launching Lotería Night, a new monthly, bilingual community series, to be held on the fourth Thursday of each month from 6-8 p.m. starting May 25.
Lotería is a traditional game of chance, sometimes referred to as Mexican bingo, and played with a deck of 54 colorful cards. The free family friendly event will be held at Town Center West and feature door prizes and aperitivos.
“Originating in 15th century Italy, lotería was brought by colonizers to the area we now call Mexico in the 1700s where it quickly gained popularity,” commented programs and engagement manager Kristin Fletcher. “A designated caller, or cantor selects a card from the deck which features a culturally relevant image, like a fruit, person, animal, cultural symbol or various personalities.
“Really good cantors add to the festive atmosphere with their banter, word play, innuendo and sometimes by referencing contemporary events and politics.”
Fletcher said that players use a board called a tabla, which is laid out like a bingo card, and contains 16 of the 54 colorful images. If the image on a player’s board matches the image the cantor calls out, the player marks it by placing a pinto bean on the square. Just like bingo, the first person to make a certain pattern with the beans is the winner and shouts “Lotería!”
Lotería is not only the most popular game in Mexico, it is also widespread in Spanish-speaking communities throughout the United States and Europe. Since each card includes the name of the image and a brief, descriptive phrase, the game is sometimes used to teach reading, writing, history, language and cultural values.
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