Coffee cup won’t destroy Christmas


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Joe Lane
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The clock struck midnight on Halloween 2015, 12 days ago. So in keeping with the gradual deletion of the month of November from our collective calendar, the holiday (or should I say Christmas?) season began about 12 days ago, too.

In addition to joy, the “holiday” season seems to bring with it a sense of shameful aggression and defensiveness. Given this November’s near-60-degree weather, perhaps nothing was more indicative of the beginning of this year’s season (and the aggression it can bring) than the introduction of Starbucks’ new holiday cup.

For a decade, Starbucks has been spreading holiday cheer by changing its cup design for the last couple months of the year, reminiscent of the time spent with family and friends. Over the years, the design has changed, but the basic principle has remained the same: a red and white color scheme with an assortment of winter symbols spread across the cup.

This year, however, Starbucks opted for a minimalist design featuring a warm two-tone red cup with nothing but the familiar Starbucks logo affixed prominently in its usual spot. A clever nod at the traditional holiday cup that proves just how ubiquitous the company and its special promotions has become.

Starbucks choosing to remove any type of holiday symbol — Christian, secular, or otherwise — from its cup simply speaks to the company’s ability to imply its brand without these images, and nothing else.

The seemingly widespread disapproval of the choice to remove Christmas symbols from the holiday cup is more likely a vocal minority expressing their discontent. But this isn’t the first time that Starbucks has taken criticism about its cup.

Earlier this year, amidst rising racial tensions across the country, Starbucks initiated a program they called “#RaceTogether.” It was a simple plan: have baristas at Starbucks across the country draw on the famous coffee cups: “#RaceTogether.”

The hope was to start a simple discussion about improving the race relations in the country. The plan went horribly. As it turns out, when people go to grab their morning coffee, the last thing they want to do is have a deep conversation about the major issues facing this country.

Eight months later, Starbucks’ cups find themselves in the news cycle again for virtually no good reason. Across Twitter and other social-media platforms, people have called to boycott the preeminent coffee shops and have made ludicrous claims such as “Starbucks is destroying Christmas.”

To paraphrase what this vocal minority is saying: “We, as devout Christians of the United States who believe that our religion takes precedence over not only every other religion in the country but also standard business practices and secular society, are upset. Despite the fact that, during the first 10 months of the year this practice is irrelevant, we will no longer purchase coffee from this company.”

The cup discussion has even forced Republican candidate Donald Trump to claim: “We are all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” I’ve got news for you, Mr. Trump (and the rest of the world), even at stores where I purchase latke ingredients and Hanukkah wrapping paper, I’m still told “Merry Christmas,” and I’m just fine with that because, at its core, this greeting captures the holiday spirit — not the Christian faith.

Christmas isn’t going anywhere — it’s time to stop pretending like a red cup is going to destroy the sanctity of the holiday or the religion.

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