Recently, Starbucks switched from their traditional white and green coffee cups to their seasonal red cups, much to the delight of Starbucks lovers everywhere. But switching to a different cup color wasn’t the only thing Starbucks did. Instead of decorating the red cups with winter-themed designs of snowmen, snowflakes, reindeer, and ornaments, the mega-popular coffee chain decided to forgo the illustrations, opting instead for a more simple design. But as some people saw it, Starbucks was doing more than just changing the design: They were publicly boycotting Christmas and Christianity in general.
Wait, what? By removing snowmen and snowflakes from a cup, Starbucks is automatically anti-Christmas? Can someone please explain to me how this works because, as a Christian, I just don’t get it.
The last I checked, symbols of Christianity didn’t involve snowmen or snowflakes. To the best of my knowledge, reindeer were not present during the birth of Christ, nor were Christmas ornaments given out in addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, the things that were present during Jesus’ birth are things that can’t be drawn on a cup: hope, love, kindness. These are the things I associate with Christmas. These are the things that embody the essence of my faith.
Even in the secular version of Christmas, there are no snowmen ambassadors representing the holiday. Instead, what does represent Christmas is the idea of goodwill and kindness to all. In fact, the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 perfectly illustrates this idea; while the German soldiers and Allied forces were in the throes of a great war, soldiers on both sides of the battle lines put their conflict aside and “declared their own unofficial truce.” German soldiers and Allied forces sang Christmas carols to each other across enemy lines on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day the German soldiers went unarmed and “approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling ‘Merry Christmas’ in their enemies’ native tongues.” For that one day, two groups of enemies put aside their differences and embodied the true meaning of Christmas. German soldiers and Allied soldiers exchanged gifts, played games with each other, and sang songs. In short, a day symbolizing peace and goodwill became a reality.
It’s somewhat ironic then that a simple cup meant to celebrate — not represent — the approaching holiday season is creating the opposite effect. With people in an uproar over a design, the true meaning of Christmas is being lost. Drawings are not equivalent to kindness, hope, or even goodwill for that matter, nor can they truly convey those characteristics. Only the actions of people can demonstrate those things, and it’s certainly not accomplished through the act of drinking out of a cup with a snowman on it.
Frankly, I don’t find Starbucks’ new cup design insulting. What I do find insulting is the act of reducing the meaning of my faith to nothing more than a cup. Because my Christmas is not about snowflakes falling or snowmen hanging out in the front yard. My Christmas is about the birth of Christ and the hope He brought to the world.
And, frankly, no design in the world can embody or recreate that for me.