Whether you believe in miracles or not, the start of 2023 can be a good time to reflect on some exceptional news from 2022 and prior years.

Young at heart in more ways than one

A good place to start is in Mayo, where 47 members of a syndicate group won a €1 million prize in the lottery in November.

The syndicate, which was called Young at Heart and comprised several retired people, played the same numbers for seven consecutive years - and eventually these digits paid off. 

While this group entered the lotto in person, it is possible to bet on the outcome of the Irish Lottery at Lottoland online.

To enter the Irish lottery, one simply has to pick six numbers from a pool of 1 to 47. These digits can be chosen manually - perhaps centred around important birthdays and other life milestones - or automatically via the quick pick option.

The draw for this lottery takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. That's a chance in the middle and toward the end of the week to win. In terms of the odds of winning the jackpot, they sit at approximately one in 10 million. Those main prize odds are higher than some lotteries but lower than others.

Young at Heart's big win in Mayo could be perceived as something of a Christmas miracle for the Christmas bunch, but what of other huge wins that have happened around the same time in the past...?

Big win for the Bakers

Lest we forget Roy and Margaret Baker, who won a fat sum in the Health Lottery and promptly declared their Christmas a success.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. I nearly fainted. I checked the numbers again and again. We won't have to worry about the bills now. We will treat the family this Christmas. It is a great time of year for this to happen," said Ms Baker.

Wilson's huge win

And then there was the US woman, Shawndra Wilson, who was able to claim her lottery winnings - albeit belatedly. She planned to spend her children with the winnings.

"I definitely was not expecting this money before Christmas," Wilson was quoted as saying at the time.

"It is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It's a Christmas miracle for me, and I really appreciate it."

Good start to 2012 for this winner

Way back in 2011, Vicky Marshall celebrated her $1 million lottery prize to bring an otherwise challenging year to a triumphant end.

"Every year it's always very stressful what you are going to do at Christmas. You can't have Christmas presents and a holiday and you struggle to do both - but because of the investment that is going to occur I won't have to do that anymore," the New Zealand mother of three exclaimed.

Another 'Christmas miracle'

In 2019, there was the nurse from Smyrna who entered and won the Delaware Lottery to the tune of $300,000. She had been playing the lottery for close to four decades and eventually won big.

"This is like a Christmas miracle. Just to know I don't have debt anymore, it is like a rock has come off of me," she said.