The annual Spring Festival Gala hosted by China Central Television has become an important part of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration since 1983, when it was first televised live at home and abroad.
The CCTV Spring Festival Gala, 春晚 (chūn wǎn) for short, intermingles songs, dances, comic sketches, opera and folk arts. Harmony and reunion are the two perennial themes of the gala. With a cheerful atmosphere, laughter and applause permeate from start to finish. The gala usually starts at 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve and lasts about four hours. The program's TV ratings have ranked first among China's variety show programs over the past two decades.
But it is difficult to cater to all audience's tastes. Each year the gala hopes to incorporate new ideas and surprise people. Both directors and performers rack their brains during writing and rehearsals. It has become a big challenge for CCTV and its creative staff.
Comedian Zhao Benshan has become very popular in recent years. Although some say they are bored with his performance, the short sketch has remained the most popular part of the gala for audiences.
In recent years, local TV stations have begun to host their own variety shows, which have met the growing cultural needs of audiences. One successful example is Hunan TV's gala, which now ranks second.
Another new type of show is the shanzhai (copycat) Spring Festival Gala Show. It is a live, unpolished performance by non-professionals that airs online during the CCTV gala.
Whether they watch the CCTV gala or its upstart rivals, Chinese people will surely enjoy themselves on the Lunar New Year's Eve.
（China.org.cn 李京荣 译）