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China's Unique Spring Festival Event -- The Online Spring Festival Gala Evening

BEIJING, Feb. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2013 online CCTV Spring Festival Gala Evening, a truly unique event, was aired on China Network Television (CNTV) on February 9, 2013, the eve of this year's Spring Festival holiday, drawing an audience cutting across every segment of Chinese society.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130222/CN63993)

This year's Lantern Festival -- the 15 th day of the first lunar month and the day of the year's first new moon -- falls on February 24, and marks the official end of this year's holiday.

2013 is the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese zodiac. Snakes are viewed as symbols of rebirth and longevity. It is a common belief that snakes will bring good luck and health. In a similar way to how Christmas is celebrated in the West, the Spring Festival is the event that welcomes the arrival of the new year. As an important part of traditional Chinese culture, the celebration of Spring Festival is spreading around the world.

An AP reporter noted, "The Chinese New Year is the single most important annual festival for Chinese people." In China, the Lunar New Year means not only eating dumplings and setting off firecrackers, but also a rare opportunity to reunite with family members-husbands with wives and parents with children. Some 700 million people across China make the trek home for the holiday -- it is the world's largest annual human migration. In addition to hanging red lanterns and adorning the doorways and walls of their hometowns with antithetical couplets (two phrases or sentences written as calligraphy on vertical red banners), the Chinese place immense importance on the Spring Festival family reunion dinner, where, besides enjoying the chance to be together with close family members, also provides a strong sense of spiritual satisfaction and enjoyment. The Spring Festival Gala Evening is as important as the reunion dinner, as both are now an integral part of today's Chinese New Year activities. With a very different approach to the parade of movies dubbed the White Christmas Marathon or House Marathon that is broadcast in the US during the Christmas holiday, the first Spring Festival Gala Evening was aired by CCTV in 1983. This year marks the 31 st edition of the variety show. As the world's longest variety show with the most extensive roster of performing artists and the largest viewing audience, Spring Festival Gala Evening has become a form of spiritual sustenance to the viewership rather than merely a gala event. Ha Wen, General Director of 2013 CCTV and host of the Spring Festival Gala Evening, said that the show has deep significance as each audience member sees the show as their companion during the important holiday.

Chinese, generally speaking, enjoy large-scale gala vents, just as they take pride in the Great Wall and the Three Gorges Dam. The 2013 Spring Festival Gala Evening featured international superstars including Yanni and Celine Dion in addition to a number of China's household names. As for the stage design, a panorama LED and a multilayer ascending/descending stage helped the show match Hollywood blockbusters in terms of special visual effects. A European reporter said after watching the event, " China indeed holds an opening ceremony on an annual basis that is on par with what they did for the Olympics."

A new trend running counter to the usual display of ostentatious luxury and extravagance is taking hold in China, and one of the most typical examples of the trend is the four-dish, one-soup menu and the increasingly popular "Eat Up All On Your Plate" campaign, both of which highlight the importance of frugality in the consumption of food. People are starting to frown on the display of their riches for no reason. Instead, they have shifted their focus to the quintessential meaning underlying the holiday. In line with traditional Chinese virtues of thrift and frugality, CNTV integrated elements of these virtues into the 2013 online gala, differentiating the televised event from dozens of similar galas aired by other TV stations, and, in doing so, became an element of the event that was quickly noticed and commented on by viewers nationwide.

What made the 2013 online CCTV Spring Festival Gala Evening unique was its high dependence on networking. Most of the show' elements were brought together through the use of networking channels, including the bringing together of the creative components, invitation of the performers, messaging the invitation to the audience and content production. In addition, the show was broadcast live on the most popular social networks and made available on mobile terminals, demonstrating changes not only in the broadcast form, but also in the traditional top-down modality of such events. The grassroots-centric online show offered original content based on the everyday life of the viewership while being broadcast on the most authoritative broadcasting platform, highlighting the "from the bottom up" aspect of the celebration.

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