Saturday is the day of the green party ... although there is no political ingredient involved here.

For this is the day when many people, whether they have any linkage to Ireland or not, are effectively encouraged to become Irish.

Over the past fortnight many gift and novelty stores have done what they have traditionally done for other public-consumption occasions like Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

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There are green bowler hats, top hats and even cowboy hats ... all adorned with a shamrock of course.

St Patrick's Day (it is poor form to say St Paddy's Day) is the annual feast day to celebrate the saint it is named after, and is accordingly a national holiday in Ireland.

Oddly enough I was told by a couple of lads who had been in Ireland on that day that some of the pubs just treated it as simply another day.

And I was told about a staunch Irish chap who has been long settled in these green pastures of Hawke's Bay, who actually keeps a low profile on March 17.

He said he was not impressed by (in his words) the "Irish wannabes" who possess not an ounce of Irish ancestry yet on one day of the year purchase green hats and gather to sing a few Val Doonican numbers.

Oh, and it has been estimated that the amount of ale (some of it tinted green for the occasion) consumed across the globe on this day comes to about $245 million.

I'm lucky, I have Irish blood, so I can go green for the day without voting for them ... so I'll drink to that.