Nottingham’s lottery started in 1984 and has become an institution among its citizens.

At the beginning, the lottery wasn’t intended to be an annual event. Instead, it was part of an effort to better understand the demographic makeup of Nottingham. The original registration only required name and age, but the application has grown over the years to include address and occupation, and it is common to see other questions regarding feelings surrounding new laws and measures for the public good.

Anyone over 16 is eligible to register as an adult, and parents of children 15 and under include information for their kids. Each minor counts as an extra entry into the lottery for the household. Registration opens each year on December 1 and continues until Yule on December 21. Generally, the reigning monarch does a ceremonial, televised reading of the winners’ names, but in recent years King John has passed the honor on to his niece, Marian Fitzwalter. The names are also published the following day in the newspapers and online, and winners have until the end of the year to claim their prizes.

Lottery prizes have changed greatly over the years and are often provided by local businesses, charitable foundations, and individuals. Prizes can range from a box of sweets to a lifetime’s access to the Inner Circle. This grand prize-winning family receives accommodations and employment, at least as long as they don’t step out of line. Donating prizes has become a way to gain prestige and favor with the government, as well as a way to advertise one’s business. Store owners will often create a display to showcase their prize early in December, often integrating them with their Yule decorations. In the Inner Circle, these window displays have become elaborate, and people will often walk from shop to shop in the evenings to see the lights.

If you missed registering for this year’s lottery, don’t fret! There’s always next year.