Groundhog’s Day, to some people, is a superstitious holiday that could easily be supported or debunked by thumbing through this year’s edition of a farmer’s almanac. But each year, in New Iberia, the groundhog…uhm…or its Cajun cousin, the nutria rat, garners a lot of attention.

Cajun Groundhog Day is an annual event held at New Iberia’s Boulingy Plaza rivaling the Punxsutawney, Pa. event, which is considered to be the official Groundhog’s Day Ceremony.  New Iberia Mayor Hilda Curry and Iberia Parish President Errol “Romo” Romero will be the dignitaries on hand for the event which highlights Pierre C. Shadeaux, the revered rodent. The festivities take place at New Iberia's Boulingy Plaza on West Main Street at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

If Mr. Shadeaux, sees his shadow, the relatively mild winter we’ve seen thus far, should continue into the spring months rather than advancing the hot, muggy weather that is much a part of our environment as king cakes are to our Mardi Gras holidays. On the other hand, it is said, if he disregards his profile, those who despise the cold can rejoice.

Groundhog’s Day, a holiday unique to the U.S., originated with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania.  According to www.groundhog.com, the Germans’ Candelmas Day, a Christian holiday celebrated on Feb. 2, held the meteorological thesis stating, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May." The groundhog was given immortality for the holiday because those German settlers saw the small mammal as being the most intelligent and plentiful animal in the area.

So as Louisiana’s Northern counterparts closely keep an eye on Punxsutawney Phil, in Pennsylvania, Acadiana will more closely take our climatological advice from our most plentiful (and intelligent?) mammal…a nutria rat.