Tombola, the game for the Christmas days!

In Italy, tombola is a traditional board game, first played in the city of Naples in the XVIII century. It is mostly played at Christmas time and actually, it became a part of the Christmas tradition 🙂


According to tradition, the tombola was born in 1734 from a discussion between King Charles of Bourbon and monk Gregorio Maria Rocco about games of the lot. The king wanted the game under the public control, to avoid the flourishing of the clandestine lot. The monk instead considered such kind of games immoral for religious reasons. The compromise was found forbidding the games during the Christmas holidays. People didn’t want to quit playing the game during that period so families organized themselves with its home version, which soon became a custom of those days of the year.


Tombola is an equivalent of bingo. Bingo is technically a gamble, as participants are required to pay a sum of money which then is redistributed as a prize to the winners. However, tombola is normally played in a family context and the amounts that are committed and won usually have symbolic values (or there are no prizes at all).

The game consists of at least 2 players and a croupier. The player with a croupier role has a board on which all numbers from 1 to 90 are shown, and a small pocket or bag filled with numbered pieces. His task is to extract the pieces randomly and announce the extracted number to the other players. Players have one or more numbered folders that they have previously purchased, consisting of 3 rows, each of which shows five numbers between 1 and 90.

Whenever the number is drawn is present on one or more of its cards, the player covers the corresponding box. In the traditional version of tombola, the cards are simply printed and the numbers are covered with beans, chickpeas, lentils, pasta or other material available after Christmas dinners such as dried fruit shells.

Wins who first covers all the numbers of his/her cards. When does so, has to shout: TOMBOLA!


It is a game which originated in Southern Italy. With the massive Italian emigration of the 19th and 20th centuries, the game was exported abroad, where it took different forms. A variation of the game is a popular form of raffle in the UK.

If you would like to play tombola during the Christmas fests, you can buy it online 🙂 Or you can even find already prepared cards online (like those I’ve put here above), download them, print them and play immediately :)!  More about downloading tombola here.

I can ensure you that it is very funny and you will enjoy it!


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