As the holiday season comes into full swing here in the U.S., there’s one sign to many that acts as a “green light” to starting their holiday to-do lists: The beloved Starbucks red cup. For years, the Seattle-based coffee chain has issued the seasonal red cup with unique designs featuring holiday icons such as ribbons or vintage ornaments.
This year, however, the company decided to go a different route; the 2015 red cups have a minimalist look showing a solid gradient flowing from bright red to a darker cranberry red as the backdrop to their internationally-recognized green logo.
My first introduction to the new look was in an article I read the first week of November. Many people in the design community were disappointed at the minimalist design, saying it lacked creativity and quality. Many of the designs in years past have been quite intricate and eye-catching.
Then things really took off. by the weekend, social media was buzzing about the criticism Starbucks was receiving from Christians saying that their new cups were taking Christmas away.
Popular vlogger Joshua Feuerstein posted a video with the caption “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus…” In that video, he claims the red cups have no signs of Christmas or Christ on their cups, so he “tricked” them into writing Merry Christmas on his cup after they asked what his name is.
Feuerstein encouraged Christians everywhere to do the same, and to begin using the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks to show their disdain for Starbucks’ un-Christ-like agenda.
First of all, Christians for years have been complaining about Christ being taken out of Christmas in the business and retail worlds. Every time a restaurant chain says “Happy Holidays”, for instance, the “Christian” culture goes nuts and vows to ban the chain. I’m surprised they haven’t attacked Starbucks for using images of reindeer on their cups instead of images of the Nativity scene.
I heard on the radio that some news stories were even saying that Christians were feeling “persecuted” because of the red cups — in a time when Christians in other countries are being run out of their homeland or even beheaded for standing up for their beliefs.
In a news release by Starbucks dated November 8, 2015, Starbucks Vice President of Design & Content Jeffrey Fields re-stated what I had read days before the red cup mayhem began. “In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories. Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.”
Essentially, Fields is saying that in all of the busyness and chaos of the holidays, they recognize the peace and calm that can be found in the coffee shop. They are marketing the fact that in the middle of your gift shopping you can stop, take a breath and regather your thoughts over a cup of joe.
Now, whether you agree with this or not (I’ve experienced that coffee shops can be quite crowded during the holidays), you have to recognize the irony in this. Christians everywhere are declaring war on Starbucks; all the while, the company is simply recognizing that we need more peace in the season.
Here is my challenge to all believers: If you’re complaining about the infamous red cup, you’re doing it wrong. If “Happy Holidays” irks you to no end, or if seeing Santa Claus instead of baby Jesus infuriates you, just stop. Take a minute and grab a coffee. Sit down and read the true story of Christmas.
The truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t be looking for Jesus on our coffee cups. The prophet Isaiah said long before Christ was born that His name would be Immanuel, meaning “God is with us.”
If you claim to be a Christian, remember this one thing: God is with you. Rather than attacking the barista, let God shine through you in the form of love. Instead of pushing people aside in the mad rush of Black Friday, go and help the needy instead.
Mr. Fields has given us believers in Christ an amazing invitation. He says that the purity of their red cup design is an invitation to share our own story. Let this be the year that you share the wonderful story of God’s redemption in your life through the birth of your Savior, Jesus.
Writer’s note: Instead of attacking Starbucks, I challenge Christians everywhere to use it as they intended it… share your story! Use #MyRedCupStory to share your testimony! Here’s my testimony below. See them all here!