The holidays are approaching, so get your cultural outrage meter ready. If you’re watching the calendar, Thanksgiving is two weeks from this coming Thursday, and the Christmas season will soon be in full swing. At many stores, the holiday season begins with Black Friday shopping, that zoo-like day-after-Thanksgiving (or sometimes night-of-Thanksgiving) event which highlights our obsession with stuff. Right now, businesses already show signs of the season, with holiday-themed decoration and sales.
And then there’s the controversy over coffee. Well, not really coffee, but the cups the coffee comes in. And not really a cup from any store, but a cup from the coffee store. Starbucks. I’ve noticed that people have strong reactions to vendors like Starbucks (or Walmart) in a way they don’t with others. The issue this season with Starbucks? You will receive your coffee in a plain red cup. That’s it. There won’t be patterned snowy things, trees, ornaments, reindeer, Santas, sledding, or anything else you’ve seen in past years. Your overpriced cappu-latte-macha-ccino, with extra foam, will have to be drunk out of a solid color cup. Oh, the horror.
No, really. Some people are having a fit with this, and I am amazed. It really is making a mountain out of a molehill, and many are livid over it.
Breitbart’s overdramatic piece, “War on Christmas: Starbucks Red Cups are Emblematic of the Christian Culture Cleansing of the West”, is absurd. Author, Raheem Kassam, shares his strong disgust:
Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year.
I hear you say. “Why do you care about what Starbucks is doing anyway? It’s crap coffee and none of us buy it.”
Sure, but plenty of people do. And subliminally, they’re being told/reminded that this time of the year is no longer about Christmas. It’s about the colour red, or something. It’s a “holiday season”. Don’t say Merry Christmas. It’s offensive.
And no, I’m not “reading too much into it”. This is happening. And it’s as disgusting as an Eggnog Latte.
Considering that Starbucks’ cups of Christmas past included snowmen, swirls, and trinkets, they should never be considered a litmus test for whether Christmas is slowly being removed from cultural awareness. All of those things are secular holiday traditions, and neither support nor break down the Christian celebrations associated with Christ’s birth. They just don’t. If your religious traditions must be affirmed by Starbucks, a secular business, then you need to reconsider the earthly sway on your religious leanings. And please, look elsewhere for actual cultural trauma.
The “outrage” has definitely gone viral. Joshua Feuerstein, a kind-of social media evangelist, videotaped a trip to Starbucks to receive his own red cup…and to make a statement. But instead of being any of worth, the video, which has amassed more than 8,000,000 views, is embarrassing, and far removed from what Christians should be outraged about.
“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head. Did you realize Starbucks wanted to take CHRIST and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.”
Joshua went on to “trick” Starbucks by telling the barista his name was “Merry Christmas”, which resulted in “Merry Christmas” being written on his cup. He also encouraged “all great Americans and Christians” to do the same, take a coffee selfie, and to essentially start a movement called #MerryChristmasStarbucks.
This is all fine and dandy, but neither Jesus, nor the manger, nor evangelical Christianity has ever been a cornerstone of Starbucks. Ever. During any holiday season. Mr. Feuerstein, and anyone else outraged about this, is completely mistaken if they believe the color of cups can even begin to remove Christ from Christmas. If Christ, the reason for Christian celebration on December 25, is so easily removed according to them, then their faith is on shaky ground indeed.
Not only is the Starbucks cup issue nothing to be concerned about, but it takes energy and time away from issues that are of concern. The next two months should be filled with thankfulness, giving, and helping those in need. This hyper-emotional reaction to the color of coffee cups shows that we need to center ourselves around what actually matters. As a Christian, the foundation for my belief isn’t anchored in seasonal marketing ploys by businesses just wanting my money. We need to cut the distractions, and focus on what’s real.
If you’re offended by Starbucks, invest in a coffeemaker. Because guess what? You can use whatever cup you’d like.