On Nov. 1, Starbucks released its highly anticipated holiday cups for the Christmas season. That same week, a Russian plane crashed in Egypt, the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series—their first title win in thirty years—Chipotle closed 43 restaurants linked to E. coli outbreaks and the U.S. held state and local elections.
Interestingly, it was the first “event” that seemed to capture the most social media attention. Post after post and tweet after tweet argued various opinions about Starbucks. Some, goaded by social media personality Joshua Feurstein, claim the popular chain is waging a war on Christmas with the simple design of the cup, which is entirely red, save for the green Starbucks logo.
“Do you realize Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their cups?” Feurstein said in a viral video. “That’s why they’re just plain red.” He then encouraged viewers to say “merry Christmas” instead of their names so that baristas are forced to read and call out the phrase.
#MerryChristmasStarbucks is the movement’s designated hashtag, and it’s already garnered quite a few entries across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The obvious problem with Feurstein’s claim is that the cup is not entirely red—it also incorporates a green Starbucks logo. Since when are red and green not universally symbolic of the Christmas season?
Furthermore, unless you consider snowflakes, snowmen, stars, ornaments, sleds, turtledoves and trees particularly Christian, Starbucks has never incorporated Christ or Christian themes in its holiday cups.
“Since 1997 Starbucks has served its holiday beverages in a unique cup, starting with a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues,” Starbucks said in a Nov. 8 press release on its website. “Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand- drawn reindeer to modern vector- illustrated characters.”
Feurstein’s absurd claims fall flat in the face of art enthusiasts everywhere who believe Starbucks is simply capitalizing on a recent trend in design that emphasizes minimalism and allows customers more space to express their own creativity.
“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, in the press release. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
As someone who regularly draws on her own Starbucks cup, I can definitely appreciate the sentiment and look forward to doodling on the two-toned red ombrè design.