QUINTO, QUINA O PLENA: A CATALAN CHRISTMAS GAME FOR EVERYONE
Over the Christmas holidays, there are many traditions practiced in Catalonia. In a region so keenly into this particular holiday, it would come as no surprise that there’s a popular game Catalans play during the festivities. The most collective, popular one is called Quinto, Quina, or Plena, depending on which part of Catalonia you are; it is also known as La Lotería Vella, or “The Old Lottery,” since it was played long before the current Christmas Lottery, of which all of Spain is familiar, came about.
The game is very similar to Bingo, although it predates it, but it does have its differences. Each player has a card divided into numbered squares—distributed in rows of five, which form six boxes of three rows—that he or she places beans on as a number is sung aloud. The quirk, and fun, of the game is that the numbers themselves are not read out. They are sung out by el lloro, or “the parrot,” the person designated as the number caller, as riddles; the number one, for example, might be described as “the smallest,” and twenty-five as “Christmas!” If that isn’t cutely Catalan enough, the players are supposed to shout out responses to the riddles. Players can win by filling in a row (Quina), a whole square (Quinto) or the entire card (Plena).
Playing the game after Christmas dinner is a deeply rooted Catalan tradition, albeit more so in rural Catalonia. With their bellies full, Catalans make their way to a local center to play, laugh and joke around until well past midnight. Essentially, this tradition is meant to create a sense of community and a fun environment.
The prize can be a money pot, made up of the money paid by each player to participate, or a holiday basket full of food and goodies.
If you’re interested in playing the game, and practicing your Catalan, here is a link to the traditional riddles and responses for each of the numbers (1-90).
By EMILY BENSON
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