Monthly Archives: December 2016

El Gordo (The Fat One) – Spain’s Christmas lottery

Spain’s Christmas lottery, “El Gordo” is not only the biggest lottery in the world but also one of the oldest, having started in 1812. It works differently to most lotteries. This year the total prize pool amounts to £1.95 billion being distributed around the country. There is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize, plus over a thousand small prizes to be won which is why the draw, held every 22nd December takes three and a half hours.

This year the draw is taking place in the Teatro Real Opera House in Madrid. Many people attend the live lottery draw wearing fancy-dress costumes (disfraces), armed with good-luck charms (amuletos), and holding placards (pancartas) with slogans on them. Find out how Spain’s Christmas lottery is drawn and how the winnings are divided here: Continue reading

Mandarin Christmas phrases

With Christmas almost here, maybe those people who are learning Chinese would like to learn a few Christmas-related words? Here are some seasonal greetings and festive words in Mandarin:

  1. 圣诞节 sheng dan jie: Christmas
  2. 圣诞快乐 sheng dan kuai le: Merry Christmas
  3. 圣诞老人 sheng dan lao ren: Father Christmas
  4. 驯鹿 xun lu: reindeer
  5. 雪橇 xue qiao: sleigh
  6. 烟囱 yan cong: chimney
  7. 圣诞树 sheng dan shu: Christmas tree
  8. 圣诞袜 sheng dan wa: Christmas stockings
  9. 圣诞礼物 sheng dan li wu: Christmas presents
  10. 烤火鸡 kao huo ji: roast turkey
  11. 圣诞布丁 sheng dan bu ding: Christmas pudding
  12. 平安夜 ping an ye: Christmas Eve
  13. 圣诞日 sheng dan ri: Christmas Day
  14. 狂欢日 kuang huan ri: Boxing Day
  15. 新年快乐 xin nian kuai le: Happy New Year!

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Spanish nouns that can be masculine or feminine

… each with a different meaning

When you start learning Spanish you learn that all nouns are classed as either masculine or feminine, however in reality there are exceptions when you can use a word with either gender, each with a different meaning.

Normally this relates to someone’s occupation, for example, el policía = the policeman, la policía = la policía. El periodista = the (male) journalist, la periodista = the (female) journalist. Other words can be used with either gender but be careful as their meaning changes. There is no reason for this so you just have to learn the gender with the noun and try to remember the following:

boleto/a: el boleto = ticket (travel) / la boletaticket (fine/penalty)

bolso/a: el bolso = handbag / la bolsa = larger bag/sack Continue reading