FOR many Spaniards it marks the beginning of Christmas.
But the government has unveiled plans to partially privatise the world-famous El Gordo – or fat one – Christmas lottery.
As the country desperately tries to avoid a debt bailout Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero, announced 30 per cent of the lottery would be sold to investors as part of a plan to get Spain back on a secure footing.
The sale is expected to raise in the region of five billion euros.
And it means the private sector will now see a share of the profits.
The lottery has ushered in the Spanish Christmas season for almost two centuries since 1812.
And last year Spaniards spent an average of 75 euros a head on El Gordo in the hopes of taking home the millionaire prize.