Starbucks Cups Attract Controversy 


Halloween has passed, and the holiday season has arrived. However, some are upset that it is the holiday season, and not the Christmas season. To be more specific, Starbucks has changed their cup design for the holiday season. Whereas last year their cups were red and decorated with snowflakes and Christmas trees, this year they are simply plain red. This has upset some people, and initially I was upset too. On an aesthetic level, it is much more attractive to add some cheerful decorations rather than simply keeping the cups a solid color. However, I hold a different grievance than the others who were enraged by the design change. Most who are upset are angry because the decorations no longer display and Christian imagery. I think that this reason for disliking the new design is flawed.

I wouldn’t exactly call snowflakes Christian imagery, and the trees on the old cups were Christmas trees, but let’s be real, it is just a tree. It’s not as if Starbucks set a precedent of religious displays by printing baby Jesus receiving gifts from the three kings on the cups. There wasn’t much of a Christian message to begin with, so it’s not like the Christian community is experiencing a huge loss of representation with the design change. Actually, the only obviously religious display on the Starbucks cups is the logo, which is the Norse two-tailed siren.

Additionally, the way that some people are responding to this change is questionable. Those who are offended have come up with an interesting way to fight the Politically Correct monster that is Starbucks: they order a drink at Starbucks and say that their name is “Merry Christmas.” This has convinced some in the Christian community to go out of their way to order at Starbucks when they normally didn’t even like Starbucks, simply to spite them for removing a snowflake from a cup. I’m not sure why Starbucks changed their design, because I have already stated that it certainly isn’t better aesthetically, but the change has helped their business. Even if someone orders with the name “Merry Christmas,” Starbucks still gets the money from the purchase. So, Starbucks has increased revenue from both those who come to Starbucks to support the change and to spite those who are offended, and those who order with the name “Merry Christmas” to spite Starbucks for attacking Christ. Starbucks certainly hasn’t suffered from the controversy.

Finally, I’m going to go ahead and say that Starbucks isn’t contributing to the “War on Christmas.” Joshua Feurstein claimed that “The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country.” Donald Trump claimed that “we should boycott Starbucks.” So to break this down, some people think that Christians are being persecuted, and that the cups were changed because people hate and are offended by Christianity. Firstly, let me state that as someone who is not Christian, I was in no way offended or upset by the previous design. I’m pretty sure that practically nobody was. Secondly, 71% of Americans are Christian. Christianity is the dominant religion in America, so it’s hard to see how Christians are being oppressed. Starbucks may have removed the snowflakes from the cups to be more religiously tolerant, and I see no issue with that. It wasn’t exactly a glaring and offensive issue, but Christianity is such a widely represented religion that I don’t see how it is oppressive to give a cup neutral holiday decorations. Other beliefs getting the same social privileges that Christianity has had for centuries is not oppression of Christians, which is why I don’t believe in a War on Christmas. However, that is more of a blanket statement not applying specifically to the Starbucks controversy.

The final statement I will make on the Starbucks issue is that people are assuming that a design change had much more social motivation than it actually did. The cups are not a part of the “War on Christmas.” The original design of the cups didn’t necessarily need to be changed, and were more aesthetically pleasing beforehand, but the change certainly wasn’t an attack on Christ.

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