We’ve all heard of the Starbucks red cup controversy. It’s all over the news outlets, blogs, and social media. But in case you somehow have managed to escape this “news story,” I’ll quickly fill you in. Starbucks got rid of the snowflakes, snowman, and animal designs on its cups and opted for an ombre red cup instead. Though I don’t personally know anyone who is offended by this occurrence, apparently there are people out there having a hard time with this change. Those offended (who no one seems to know personally) feel Starbucks is trying to phase out Christmas by not printing cute fuzzy animals romping around in falling snow on its cups. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But here are a few reasons to rethink the “issue” of the red cups and instead focus on some larger issues in the world.
I’m just going to say it. Since when do snowflakes and snowmen symbolize Christmas specifically? Last time I watched the weather channel, snowflakes symbolized snow. And winter. And animals? That’s just nature. I don’t understand how snow means baby Jesus. People of all faiths participate in making snowmen and having snowball fights. And while, yes, they did have some Christmas specific designs some years, no one complained when, instead, more neutral, winter designs were used during other years. So why complain now?
The cups are still red and green. Christmas colors. They are not blue. They are not brown. They are not orange. They are red and green. Starbucks could have decided to get rid of the “red cups” all together. I mean, they do have every right to. If they were truly looking to get rid of any kind of hint of Christmas, they probably would have selected more neutral colors.
Have you been into a Starbucks? Seriously. Like actually stepped foot into the store and café area and looked around at the merchandise? For an establishment that is supposedly trying to get rid of Christmas, there are a crazy number of overtly Christmas items. These items include ornaments, items titled “stocking stuffers,” an advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree, and a teddy bear dressed as Santa Claus. Oh, let’s not forget the seasonal coffee blend titled “Christmas Blend.”
Let’s be real. The ombre cups were probably just cheaper to print. A less intricate design has to be both easier and quicker to make, right? And normally, easier and quicker equals less coin. Or maybe they were trying to capitalize on the ombre craze that occurred this past year. Remember? Ombre clothes, ombre hair, ombre nails. Ombre was everywhere. Who knows when Starbucks decides on their red cup design for the year. It could have been right in the middle of the ombre trend.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas and I love Christmas themed decorations, mugs, coffee, merchandise, food…everything. If it’s got a Santa Claus, Christmas wreath, or Christmas tree on it, hurry up and take my money! But I also understand that companies are not required to create or sell Christmas themed products. Sure it’s fun when they do (and they’ll definitely get more of my cash), but I don’t expect every company to celebrate Christmas with me. Or enable my Christmas themed spending.
Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Yes, people now say “Happy Holidays” in an effort to be more inclusive to those who are not of Christian faith. Or call this time of year the “Holiday Season” instead of “Christmas time.” But when you go to the mall, what’s usually present this time of year? A Hanukkah bush? No, a Christmas tree. And Santa Claus. What music is playing? Christmas music. Even if someone refers to it as “holiday music” it doesn’t change the fact that the song is about Santa Claus and opening presents on Christmas day. Christmas trees and Christmas themed events pop up everywhere this time of year. Even if one chain did decide not to participate in anything Christmas, there’s no way everyone would follow along with them. Because let’s be honest about it. Christmas is way too big of a commercial holiday for stores to eliminate its presence.
Christmas has taken over almost every other holiday during this time of year. It wasn’t even Halloween, and Christmas merchandise was already stocked on the shelves in hardware, craft, and big box stores. Some even had more Christmas items available than Halloween or harvest items. It was like we skipped right over fall. Not only does the Holiday have a strong presence commercially, its presence can be seen MONTHS before Christmas day; Causing many to fast forward through the fall season in order to celebrate Christmas earlier (No shame. Start celebrating whenever you want!)
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the red cup didn’t have pictures on it this year. I wouldn’t have looked twice when getting my peppermint mocha. But making a fuss over something that is really such a small, trivial, harmless issue in the eyes of many people only gives the company more press. It puts them in the minds of people who maybe weren’t thinking of getting Starbucks today, but now that they’ve been hearing about the “controversy” they start thinking “A peppermint mocha sounds good… I’ll get one later today.” Very rarely does something like this take away business. Most of the time it just brings out supporters.
One thing I never understood is why people complain about Christmas “fading away” through the use of “Happy Holidays” and, now, the ombre red cup. Why don’t I understand it? Because I don’t hear people of different faiths complaining that they are inundated with Christmas everything for a quarter of the year. It’s a holiday they don’t celebrate, have no involvement in, and there is no escaping Christmas once November hits. But I have yet to hear any large group boycotting Macy’s or Target over Christmas displays. And here we have people complaining that red and green cups aren’t “Christmas enough.”
That’s right. It’s a cup; A disposable cup to drink delicious coffee out of. There are no slurs written on the cup. No foul words or disturbing, graphic language or illustrations. It’s just a cup. There are way bigger things to be concerned about in the world. I mean, honestly, is this what #FirstWorldProblems have come to? If you’re biggest issue in life is a red cup without snowmen on it, consider yourself very lucky. Because you must live a very blessed life to have a disposable cup as your biggest issue or problem of the moment.
In the end, the spirit of Christmas is not about red cups, Santa Claus, or hearing Bing Crosby sing as you shop. Christmas is a time to celebrate faith. It is a time for giving, kindness, and understanding. It is a time to be generous and help the less fortunate. It is a time to come together. Focusing on things like the design of a coffee cup not only creates unnecessary conflict over a drinking utensil, it takes away from the true meaning of the holiday. Let’s instead focus on the aspects of benevolence, generosity, and love that Christmas is supposed to entail and I think we will all have a much happier Christmas, holiday winter season life.