As the 5th of May winds down to a close in the United States, where it is celebrated by the entire Mexican community, we thought we would talk about a cool Mexican game that maybe you can try your hand at in these days of lockdowns and confinements. The Mexican Loteria is an interesting twist on Bingo where instead of numbers you play with illustrated cards. The Loteria deck is composed with a set of 54 different cards with a picture on it. Now, these pictures could range from traditional tarot illustrations to something as whacky as Starwars.
To start, the caller, called Cantor, shuffles the deck. One by one, the caller picks a card from the deck and announces it to the players by its name. The reading of the name is never straight forward. There are really funny and creative verses created on the spot by the Cantor to read out the name. For example, when a card with a pear turns up, the Cantor might sayEl que espera, desespera. He who is a pear will wallow in disappointment/ He who hopes will wallow in disappointment.(The pun being on the words el que es pera- he is a pear/ el que espera – he who hopes)
Now each player already has a tabla, a board with a randomly created 4 x 4 grid of images with their corresponding name and number. Players choose a tabla to play with, from a variety of previously created tablas, each with a different selection of images. Each player locates the matching illustration of the card just announced on their board and marks it off with a chip or other kind of marker.- normally a pinto bean. The first player to get all the images on this tabla has to shout LOTERIA! to win the round.
So perhaps you can make your own set of LOTERIA cards and play it with your dear ones this week! Just make sure you make up some cool verses to announce those cards.