The online show invited one hundred families from around the world, with invitees including Olympics champions, rural teachers and electric power workers. During the show, the invited guests sat together and shared their real life stories. The show culminated when hosts, together with guests, held up their drinks and made a "bottoms up" toast, just as family members often do during their reunion dinners. Guangming Daily commented that there have been more than 20 New Year's Eve countdown parties and over 40 Spring Festival Gala Evening events since the beginning of 2013. Spring Festival Gala Evening events have become an excellent opportunity for TV stations to demonstrate their market dominance, ability at self-promotion and strength of their brand. The 2013 online CCTV Spring Festival Gala Evening scrapped the traditional routines and focused on the real life stories of common people: Chang Shitou, a 50-year-old man who had been working as a sweeper cum sanitation worker on the Badaling Great Wall for 26 years, Wang Ran, a 18-year-old young woman with cerebrovascular disease who has never given up her hobby as a singer, military veteran Wang Jicai and his wife, who have patrolled Kaishan Island alone for 27 years and a couple of train attendants who passed each other in moving trains while glimpsing at each other through the train windows that separated them more than 750 times as well as rural teachers, college graduates village officials and electric power workers who still employ horses as the mode of transportation. The real life stories of these common people are quite ordinary, yet at the same time, heart-warming and encouraging.
At the evening gala party, the families had a discussion on the reasons why they love China and gave their interpretation of what the "Chinese Dream" means for them. Without any prompting or guidance from any official government body, these statements from "salt of the earth" members of society resonated deeply with the viewing audience. People's Daily, China's most authoritative print media, highly acclaimed the online Spring Festival Gala Evening. "While it is always a good thing to provide audiences with an increasing number of gala evening events and a wider variety of programming, some evening event organizers only focus on creating an ostentatious and flashy environment that provide excitement but fail to connect with the audience in an intimate way as a result of the meaningless performances and vacuous kits."Despite being less popular than the similar event aired by CCTV, the Spring Festival Gala Evening, and, especially for those working far away from their hometowns, the online Spring Festival Gala Evening truly represent the beginning of a highly distinctive evening culture with their higher rates of participation, levels of interaction, approachability and feeling of intimacy.
From the rush to get home to enjoy Spring Festival with one's family to the Spring Festival Gala Evening, the holiday retains the feeling of nostalgia that has always been associated with the time of the year, and an event enjoyed by everyone. However, the holiday is not just about the purchases for the "big day" and going home for the family reunion, it's also about connecting with one's culture and with the creative elements of that culture. For this "connectedness" to have true meaning, proper attention needs to be given to the events and qualified guidance needs to support the creation of the events. Just as the Spring Festival Gala Evening, with its programming aimed at the migrant worker community, and the accompanying online Spring Festival Gala Evening revealed, the sense of attachment that is inherent in the cultural vitality of the community is huge and is reflected in the folklore that is still part and parcel of that community. As a result of the active participation of the audience in the "Chorus" part of the program, the traditions and essence of the meaning of the Spring Festival annual holiday can be once again brought to the fore and further rooted in the soul of each and every Chinese individual, helping them reconnect to their cultural roots in the modernization process of China.
CNTV deputy chief editor Wang Yiru said, "Many people were actually touched by their own lives at the evening party." Enlight Media president Wang Changtian added, "People both at home and abroad always demonstrate their deep-felt attachment to their hometown in every aspect of their lives. Today, Chinese people's lives are anchored by the little things of importance that bind them to their place of origin and the vignettes about that place that they can share with others." Hu Xuping, director of large-scale events at CNTV, said, "We broke ranks with the traditional pattern of the Spring Festival Gala Evening and took to heart the concept of hosting the event in a frugal manner. Unlike such events hosted over the past few years, this year's stage design is not so "fabulous" but most definitely quite original in its simplicity."SOURCE CNTV