Think you know Christmas in Maine?

Put down the egg nog and take a crack at our Maine & The Holidays Quiz. (You just may earn a reputation among all your family and friends gathered for the holidays . . . er, a better reputation.) 

We guarantee lights, song and boatloads of trees.

Also dogs and lobster — but only of the festive variety.

1. In the “Murder, She Wrote” episode “A Christmas Secret,” set, of course, in Cabot Cove, Maine, someone who is dressed as Santa Claus:  

1) Proposes to Angela Lansbury’s niece by sticking an heirloom ring in mistletoe.


2) Shoots a woman suspected of embezzling.

3) Is found dead, strung up by the ankles on a lobster boat.

2. Maine supplied the White House Christmas tree in 1959. What did we send down that year?

1) A rooted 45-foot Fraser fir to be replanted in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park after the holidays.

2) A 55-foot balsam fir, a shorter, last-minute replacement for a 74-foot balsam fir that fell off its rail car in New Jersey.

3) A traditionally cut 70-foot white spruce from Aroostook County, which made it down just fine, thank you.


3. How many times has it snowed in Portland on Christmas Day in the last 14 years, according to the National Weather Service in Gray? 

1) Zero — the date has basically, of late, been a total snow jinx.

2) Once — 12.5 inches fell in 2002, making it the most snow on Christmas Day since records started being kept in 1882. 

3) Four times — and three of those four times saw 1.1 inch of snow or less.

4. Maine’s Christmas Cove, on Rutherford Island in Lincoln County, is incorrectly rumored to have gotten its name how?

1) English explorer John Smith, busy mapping the coast, spent Christmas anchored there in 1614.


2) Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller kept a mansion on the island in the early 1900s; he named his favorite cove after his favorite holiday.

3) Snow was inexplicably discovered there in August 1847; it had to be the work of Christmas elves. 

5. Maine saw Christmas tree sales of $3.5 million in 2014, according to the last U.S. Census of Horticultural Specialties. That makes the Pine Tree State responsible, in dollars, for what percentage of the nation’s Christmas trees?

1) Less than 1 percent

2) 5 percent 

3) 10 percent


6. In Rockland, the town-proclaimed world’s largest Christmas tree made of lobster traps:

1) Features a lit 5-foot-tall fiberglass lobster on top, holding a star.

2) Once blew over. (Well, just half of it.)

3) Is featured this month in Travel + Leisure Magazine.

7. Nearly 30 years ago, Maine songwriter Con Fullam wrote the “Maine Christmas Song” in a half-hour inspired by:

1) Having seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time the night before, imagining Jimmy Stewart’s character in Maine.


2) His own childhood growing up in Sidney, getting sleigh rides and watching his mom make wreathes.

3) The crush of a deadline: The song had to be turned in by 2 p.m. so his family could catch a plane to Orlando and be in Disney World that night.

8. Producers for “The 12 Dogs of Christmas,” a movie shot in Bethel and released in 2005, originally scouted the town with a variety of requests, including:

1) A three-story home willing to accommodate a three-story-tall spiral slide attached to a bedroom window. (The heroine’s primary means of leaving her house.)

2) Use of an indoor, dog-friendly pool heated to exactly 84 degrees.

3) 78 local dogs, all of specific breeds, all able to appear on stage together.


9. Ahead of Christmas 1898, B. Peck Dry Goods Co. — the early name for Peck’s, the largest department store in Lewiston at the time — ran an ad in the Lewiston Saturday Journal promising that “a Christmas gift of a dress pattern of some kind never fails to please the recipient.”

Back then, the pattern for “a good black dress” (perhaps a precursor to the little black dress?) started at:

1) 99 cents

2) $1.75

3) $2.25

10. L.L.Bean’s massive, 11th annual Northern Lights Celebration features live reindeer, a night sky dome simulating the aurora borealis, horse-drawn wagon rides, a model train village and so many Christmas trees that it just might be an official world-record-setting number of simultaneously lit Christmas trees in one place.


How many trees did L.L.Bean put up?

1) 275

2) 416

3) 680


1. “Murder, She Wrote” Santa?


2) He shot a woman suspected of embezzling $400,000 from her hardware store-owner boss, according to the Internet Movie Data Base. But he didn’t kill her, which is, I guess, Santa justice?

2. Maine’s White House Christmas tree?

3) A 70-foot white spruce, according to a historic photo posted online by the Presque Isle Historical Society.

The photo caption says the tree was decorated with 3,800 lights. (The caption incorrectly says it was a white pine; it was a white spruce.)

According to Kim Smith, secretary/treasurer for the board of the historical society, it was the first time a White House Christmas tree came from east of the Mississippi and the first time it came from private land. (It had previously been cut from national parks or forests.) The donation was in honor of Presque Isle’s 100th anniversary.

3. White Christmas?


3) Four times, as measured in Portland, according to meteorologist Tom Hawley. There was a trace amount in 2013, 1.1 inch in 2012, 0.7 inch in 2011 and the record-breaking 12.5 inches in 2002.

4. Christmas Cove’s name?

1) The story with explorer John Smith, which didn’t happen, according to the history of the town on South Bristol’s website. (Rutherford Island is part of South Bristol.) Smith headed back home in October 1614, so he couldn’t have spent that Christmas there.

5. Percentage of the country’s Christmas trees from Maine?

1) Less than 1 percent.

Gary Keough, state statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said nationwide there were $366.6 million in Christmas tree sales in 2014. (The lion’s share came from Oregon, responsible for $127 million of that.)


The good new: Maine’s sales in 2014 were up more than $1 million, 45 percent, from the last census count in 2009.

6. Rockland’s lobster trap tree?

Trick question! All three are true.

The tree, made of 154 brand new, conventional 4-foot traps, has been going up for the holidays for the last 13 years. 

“We have what we consider to be a secret engineering plan for it with a specific number of lobster traps and how the traps are laid out,” said Gordon Page, executive director of Rockland Main Street.

(The blowing-over incident was eight or nine years ago; the design was tweaked and it’s been safe and sound since.)


The tree stands 40 feet tall fully assembled with a glowing lobster on top holding a star. It was one of 13 trees featured in Travel + Leisure’s “How Wacky Are Thy Branches: The World’s Strangest Christmas Trees.”

And it’ll stay up in Rockland’s downtown until Jan. 5 if you want to drive over to check it out.

7. Inspiration for “Maine Christmas Song”?

2) Fullam’s childhood.

“My mother was a big wreath maker; that was her Christmas, making wreathes for people,” Fullam said. “Sidney was a little place where everybody knew everybody and watched out for each other. I did get sleigh rides. So a lot of that song really is about my childhood.”

The song, sung by Malinda Liberty, has since sold more than 100,000 copies.


8. Request for “The 12 Dogs of Christmas”?

3) 78 local dogs.

“The biggest challenge was finding all of the different species of dogs that they wanted,” said Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, who worked with the film crew. “They needed one something, two of another kind of dog, three of another kind of dog, up to 12 of a certain kind of dog. I’m thinking, ‘Wow.’ I thought all these things to myself and I heard my mouth say, ‘Oh, no problem.’

“I leaned on people that I knew at the local animal hospital, people who ran shelters and other animal types of people,” she said. “It all just came together.”

It made for a great experience for the town and the perfect movie for this time of year, Zinchuk said. 

9. Giving a dress pattern for Christmas in 1898?


2) It would run you $1.75.

Author and historian Doug Hodgkin found that ad and others while researching his new book “Lewiston Politics in the Gilded Age: 1863-1900.” He was struck by the evolution of Christmas coverage in news pages and ads.

In 1854, there was “absolutely no mention (of Christmas) in the newspaper,” Hodgkin said. By 1861, “the mills were closed to give the operatives a Merry Christmas.”

10. How many trees did L.L.Bean decorate?

3) 680.

“The plan was 400 trees; they thought they could fit in more,” said spokesman Eric C. Smith.


And that they did.

Last winter, the Hallmark Channel broke the world record for lit trees in one place with 559 in New York City’s Herald Square, so Beans could pursue the record, if it wanted to. (It doesn’t, for now.) 

Strung on those 680 trees? 175,000 LED lights, according to Smith.

The Northern Lights Celebration runs through Dec. 31. 

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