Wednesday November 24, 2010 | 04:23 PM

How robust is your yuletide pride?

Maybe a pair of red-bulb earrings signal your holiday adoration. Maybe it's a holiday sweater - or a collection of sweaters worn in the same order every year in accordance with a proximity-to-Christmas pattern only you understand.

Christmas fervor can be measured in a multitude of ways: a) the loudness and persistence of your office cubicle caroling, b) the frequency with which your oven is used for gingerbread men, sugar cookies or fruitcake and/or c) the distance from which your home's Christmas lights can still be seen (down the block, from the interstate, from space).

And while those external holiday gestures are heart warming and seasonally appropriate, Christmas devotees must ask themselves: How spirited am I on the inside?

As in interior decorations. As in the fake snow, olde-timey village and collection of nutcrackers that can't be seen by every Tom, Dick and Harry who uses your street as a cut-through to get to the gas station.

Admittedly, my decorations are a bit anemic. But the adornments at Portland's Victoria Mansion could really put any home to shame.

The mansion opened its doors last night for a sneak peak at this year's "12 Days of Christmas" themed decorations.

The historic home - already loaded with architectural details, decorative art and carved wood to keep the amateur historian occupied for months - is now also layered with holiday dazzle.

Much of the Christmas dressing is traditional - the garland, the red ribbon, the tall trees and glass ornaments. But some of it - like the row of blackbirds on the mantle in the dining room - isn't your average holiday stuff.

The modern flourishes come from area designers - twelve of whom had the pleasure of designing the holiday decor in one of the mansion's rooms. Designers include Flora Fauna, O'Donels Nursery, Dodge the Florist and Blue Elephant, who put together the "Nine Ladies Dancing" room, below, with the ballerinas.

New Victoria Mansion Director Thomas Johnson also gave me a look-see at the private bath upstairs, which is closed to the public while being restored.

"Christmas at Victoria Mansion" is open from Nov. 26-Jan. 8. Admission is $15 adults/$5 children/free under 6. Family entry is $35 and all tours are self-guided. There's also a holiday gift shop in the carriage house.

Here's a video-peak at this year's decor, courtesy of the PPH's Chad Gilley:

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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