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Get ready for the Year of the Monkey

Get ready for the Year of the Monkey

Every year, after the holiday decorations come down and the New Year’s Eve party gets cleaned away, Canadians are given another reason to celebrate.

Chinese New Year falls annually between January 21 and February 20 — this year it is February 8 — marking the turn of the Chinese calendar. With Canadians of all backgrounds choosing to partake in the festivities, the holiday is garnering more and more attention.

History of Chinese New Year

The history is rooted in the legend of Nian, a beast who would terrorize the local villages in search of food. To protect their families from the beast, villagers learned from an elder to put up red lanterns, red paper and firecrackers near their doors, as Nian was afraid of the colour and loud sounds.

Chinese New Year Traditions Today

These parts of the story still play an important role today, with families adorning their homes in red decorations and hosting reunion dinners. Friends and loved ones gather together for this celebration where a variety of traditional dishes are served, each symbolizing a hope for the new year ahead including prosperity, fertility and luck.

Uncle Ben’s is encouraging families across the country to host a reunion dinner of their own this year. More information about the festivities is available at

Decor Tips and Tricks

Chinese New Year is bursting with signs of luck. And, with the holiday falling this year on February 8, good fortune has a particularly large role to play, as the number eight is considered to be lucky.

The colour red also is a marquee symbol, with everything from doors of homes to clothing featuring the bright colour. Here are some tips and tricks for ensuring your home and family are prepared for 2016:

  • Get started by giving your house a thorough clean; this helps prepare you to accept good fortune and sweep away bad luck.
  • Adorn your home in red to partake in the festivities, including banners featuring Chinese New Year greetings and oval-shaped paper lanterns to match traditional decorating techniques.
  • Fill your home with bouquets of orchids or bamboo, which also represent luck to help you have a good year.
  • Thinking of giving gifts? Red envelopes with money are the custom, helping to bring good fortune to the upcoming year.
  • On the day, play traditional games like Mah-jong where four players compete with Chinese-symbol marked tiles for points.

Chinese New Year Recipe

Rice, a symbol of good fortune, is an integral part of the Chinese New Year celebratory meal. Representing fertility, luck and wealth, it is the cornerstone of many iconic dishes. What’s more, with its stickiness representing the family bond, rice is an ideal part of a meal shared between loved ones.

This easy to prepare dish from Uncle Ben’s has impressive and diverse flavours of meat and vegetables with the rice. It’s also a quick meal solution for any weeknight.

Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 to 40 minutes

Servings: 4


  • 1 cup (250mL) Uncle Ben’s Converted rice
  • 2 tbsp (30mL) canola oil • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped carrots
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) leftover roast pork, cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cooked baby shrimp
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped green onions
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce


1. Prepare rice according to package directions.

2. In a skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots for about 4 minutes or until starting to soften. Push carrots to side of pan and add remaining oil. Cook egg, stirring, for 30 seconds or until set. Mix carrots into egg. Stir in rice, pork, shrimp, peas, green onions and soy sauce. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

For more Chinese New Year recipes, or to learn about the new aspects of the celebration taking place this year, visit