Every year on Tesseminas 1?, the quadrangle in Alexandria?, where the last of Xanth's shrines stands defiant, disappears inside an elaborate structure made of ice which defies both the laws of gravity and the summer climate. This structure is well-known across the realm as Xanth's Grotto, and its appearance marks the first day of a month-long event that draws villagers from near and far.

No one knows exactly how the event originated or what purpose it serves. Some say Xanth was so enamoured of the white Christmasses on Earth? that she created the grotto one day on a whim — and liked the result so much that it became a tradition. Others claim it is not built by Xanth at all but merely a ploy by the Alexandrian Council? to draw in tourists.

Whatever the reasons, or the culprits behind it, the grotto is considered a Wonder of the World. Erected overnight — and some say even in the blink of an eye — it is a colossal maze made entirely of ice. It surrounds the base of the twenty-foot statue and even reaches Her hips in some places but, perhaps more wondrous than anything else, its structure changes from year to year so that no two mazes are exactly alike.

Despite the many differences that appear every year, two things remain the same:

  1. At the heart of the maze is an ice throne overshadowed by a magnificent green spruce, in turn laden with glittering baubles and tinsel, which is surrounded by mountains of prettily wrapped presents. Some visitors swear they can see themselves mirrored in the baubles, and that their whole lives — every choice, good and bad, they have ever made — play out before their eyes.

    Yet Xanth Herself, to whom the ice throne was assumed to belong, had never been seen within the walls of the grotto until 10,012 XA? when not only the quadrangle but the whole of New Alexandria? was covered in snow. (The Voice of Xanth? claimed the change was the Creator's attempt to raise morale after the quake that shook the world and spent the first day of the Grotto spreading word that the maze had returned.)
  2. The ice maze is always guarded. Defying the laws of nature, these guards are living and moving (if not breathing) snowmen of all sizes, garbed in winter clothing and entirely enthusiastic about their duty. They seem to take great delight in pelting passers-by and would-be visitors with snowballs, making entry hazardous yet fun for all.

For some, visiting Xanth's Grotto is like a pilgrimage and they are happy simply to pay their respects. However, according to the quaint signs driven into the snow and ice outside, the main purpose is the presents.

Xanthmas is an annual in-character special event that takes place during the month of December. Every year, you can post a wishlist and then send your characters to visit the grotto once a week to claim a total of four prizes each. These can range in value from cash and karma to special and unique equipment, or even pets and enchantments.