Starbucks under hellfire

red coffee cups surrounded by flames

Taylor Mabelitini | Washtenaw Voice


Sofia Lynch




By Sofia Lynch


Recently there has been some debate over a rather trivial change in the way that Starbucks celebrates the holidays. A change so trivial, mind you, that many Americans may have never noticed if not for the media coverage of the backlash it created. This year, rather than sporting the Christmas-themed coffee cups the company has used in the past, they decided to make a more inclusive holiday design: the illustrious red cup.

The idea of the plain cup was “to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” according to Starbucks Vice President Jeffrey Fields, cited in a CNN article. Since the company also offers Christmas blend coffee and Christmas blend espresso roast, going secular across the board was not achieved. Despite this, Christians have been taking to the internet to fight against what is apparently being called the “war on Christmas.”

The outcry against the red cup was seemingly fueled by the vocal outrage of self-proclaimed social media personality and evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein, according to CNN. Feuerstein claimed that Starbucks was “trying to remove the Christmas out of Christmas.” Republican candidate Donald Trump also did what he does best and made some noise on the subject, claiming ‘maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Trump’s proposal was far from a modest one considering the cup design changed almost imperceptibly from the one used in the previous year: a red cup with red, splotched snowflakes or pine trees that looked painted on. If you are offended by a lacking of Christmas symbolism on the paper cups that hold your coffee or feel that it affects the way you celebrate your religion around the holidays, you should probably take a second look at what matters most to you in your belief system.

In the month of December, it is probably harder to find a business not donning Christmas decorations than to find one that does. The fact that people are up in arms over one company’s decision to celebrate the holidays in a way that lets every customer feel included doesn’t make much sense. Being outraged over the lack of Christmas symbolism essentially says, “I wanted only my religion and my holiday to be recognized.”

In this way, the revolt caused by this Starbucks holiday cup represents a common issue I see in the disparity between the majority and minority in matters of recognition/representation of religion or other aspects of human rights. There are immeasurable ways that the celebration of Christmas is made clear to the general public from November to December, while little to no recognition is given to other holidays that fall around the winter solstice.

Why is it that when there is one instance of recognition or inclusion for groups that are outside of the majority, rather than celebrating that equality is being worked towards, people of the majority grab the pitchforks and torches? Christmas-favoritism is a noticeably nationwide mindset, so their battle has already been won. For people who can’t just pick up a Reese’s cup shaped like the symbols of their holiday, one can imagine that tiny changes like a non-denominational coffee cup could feel like a little victory.

People who know that they are within the societal majority should try to expand their thinking and empathize. When one has never been discriminated against, one cannot understand what a victory it is to finally be empowered. So Christmas crusaders, make the attempt to put yourself in the shoes of someone who can’t find imagery of their holiday in every store, home, or public setting. Although ornament-adorned Starbucks cups are nice, your holiday will go on without it; those who don’t celebrate Christmas have survived many holidays without the symbols of their beliefs plastered across the country.




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