Lunar New Year’s Eve is typically a time when the whole family gets together, with multiple generations – from grandparents to grandkids – gathering for the Spring Festival reunion dinner , or to hang out in front of the television while making dumplings for the festive meal. As the world’s most-watched TV show, it’s safe to say the Spring Festival Gala television show – Chunwan in Chinese and dubbed “China’s Super Bowl” – contributes to the celebratory mood on Lunar New Year’s Eve. Also known as CCTV New Year’s Gala , the variety show broadcast has become an annual tradition in millions of homes across mainland China, with discussing and debating the performances a popular pastime. As we are count down to the Year of the Ox, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the festive gala. Angelababy, Guo Jingming or Huang Shengyi – which Chinese celebrity owns the most OTT, opulent home? What kind of show is the Spring Festival Gala ? First broadcast in 1983, the Spring Festival Gala has a history of nearly four decades. Broadcast from 8pm until midnight, the variety format presents four-hour a mix of comedy, singing, dancing, acrobatics and magic acts from top-notch performers who are selected through many rounds of auditions. According to China’s State Council Information Office, the 2018 Super Bowl drew around 103 million viewers while the 2017 Chunwan recorded almost seven times that: more than 700 million both at home and abroad. With its high popularity both at home and among the Chinese diaspora all over the world, the Gala is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s most-watched television programme. 8 Valentine’s Day brunches and takeaways in Hong Kong Which year holds the record for most appearances? Many Chunwan performers have emerged as household names in China solely as a result of their recurring appearances on the show. Among these performers, one actor has appeared in the Gala at almost every year since 1986 – Feng Gong. Although Feng might be an unfamiliar name in Hong Kong, he is actually a well-known actor especially famous for his xiangsheng performances. Xiangsheng , also known as crosstalk or comic dialogue, is a traditional performing art in Chinese comedy. Other frequently appearing stars are comedians Cai Ming, Huang Hong and Zhao Benshan, as well as singers Song Zuying and Cai Guoqing. What are Zhang Ziyi’s 5 best film performances? Who gave away one billion yuan’s (US$155 million) worth of red packets in the Gala, and who’s up this year? Viewers furiously tapping their mobile phones trying to snatch a share of the massive digital red packet, or hongbao , giveaways run by Chinese internet giants is always a gala highlight. In 2015, Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat – now the two biggest third-party payment platforms in mainland China – introduced virtual red packet giveaways. (Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post. ) Participants had to grab as many as they could via their smartphones. Since then, the show has been a promotional battleground among internet companies. Last year, Kuaishou – a Chinese video-sharing platform – gave away one billion yuan (US$155 million) through the Gala’s red packet campaign, while this year TikTok sister app Douyin will jump on the bandwagon, pooling 1.2 billion yuan (US$185 million) into red packets – a record high of the show. Who was catapulted to stardom after the Gala show? Considering that it’s the show with the largest audience in the world, there’s usually hot competition among celebrities for the honour to perform on the Spring Festival Gala stage. Songs that debut in the gala often go viral, and actors and singers are often catapulted to stardom after the show. Which Chinese drama stars started off in Hong Kong movies? Chinese actor Shen He, better known by his stage name Xiaoshenyang, was one of these lucky performers. His mentor Zhao Benshan – a well-known Chinese skit and sitcom actor – invited him to perform a skit together on the 2009 Gala, and Shen became famous immediately afterwards. His vocal prowess wowed the audience and he continued to appear in the gala in the following three years. Another lucky actress was Dong Jie, who was virtually unknown before she appeared on the 2000 gala. During the show, Hong Kong singer Nicholas Tse performed while Dong stood beside him wearing a Chinese wedding gown. Although she didn’t say a word throughout the four-minute song, she still stole the show with her cute face and smile. Like Shen, Dong’s fame soared overnight, with celebrated Chinese director Zhang Yimou even recognising her talent. She made her acting debut in Zhang’s movie Happy Times the same year, playing a blind girl mistreated by her stepmother. That makes her a “Yimou girl” – a nickname given to actresses who get media attention from starring in one of Zhang’s films – alongside Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. 5 best vegan restaurants and menus to try in Hong Kong this Lunar New Year Who was the first Hong Kong singer to perform in the Gala, and which other Hong Kong celebrities have performed in it? Over the past 38 years, music artists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have also performed in the gala. The Hong Kong stars who featured on the show include Roman Tam , Anita Mui , Maggie Cheung , Tony Leung, Andy Lau , Aaron Kwok , Joey Yung, Twins and G.E.M., to name a few. But who was the first Hong Kong celebrity to ever perform on the show? In 1984, to commemorate the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, that year’s gala invited some Hong Kong stars to appear on the show. Cheung Ming-man was the first Hong Kong singer to perform with his song My Chinese Heart becoming an instant hit, with Cheung achieving stardom across China. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .