"Cup-gate" not a front in "War on Christmas"

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It’s official: Starbucks has declared war on Hanukkah. Every November, Starbucks decides to spruce up its various warm beverages with fun cup designs in the holiday spirit. This year’s cups have created the issue at hand — they are completely red.

Red — while appropriate for winter holidays such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Diwali — does not in any way fit into the blue and white color scheme of Hanukkah. Starbucks is deliberately ignoring the Jewish community and disrespecting the memory of the Maccabees, the heroes of the Hanukkah tale.

To combat this obvious hatred of my beloved holiday, I have come up with a way to force the Festival of Lights to get the recognition on Starbucks coffee cups that it deserves. I am going to visit my local Starbucks with a bucket of blue paint, buy a drink, and then force my barista to paint the cup blue for me. My cup covered in wet blue paint will serve as a reminder that we cannot stand idly by in the face of hatred; we must fight to have our voices heard.

Obviously, this plan of mine has a few major flaws. For one, having cans of blue paint in places where foods and drinks are being made is definitely against health code. Furthermore, Starbucks is a corporation that does not care about my outrage as long as I am still purchasing its beverages. Finally, and most importantly, it is absolutely ridiculous to call a red coffee cup a symbol of hatred against the holidays.

Nonetheless, conversations about these coffee cups have filled the news ever since Starbucks released their new cup design last week. While in previous years, the Starbucks holiday cup has featured winking snowmen, sledding scenes, snowflakes, tree ornaments, and words such as “wish” and “hope,” this year Starbucks has dialed it back, creating a mininalist cup with a two-tone red background and the Starbucks logo. “Starbucks is inviting their customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way, with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas,’’ the company said in a statement to TODAY.

This change of design has sent self-proclaimed evangelist and Internet personality Joshua Feuerstein into a frenzy. On Nov. 5, Feuerstein posted a video on his Facebook page to his over 1.8 million followers expressing his outrage over the cup design that does not feature any holiday imagery.

“Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red,” Feuerstein proclaimed in his video. “When I went in, I asked for my coffee, they asked for my name, and I told them my name is Merry Christmas. So guess what, Starbucks, I tricked you into putting Merry Christmas on your cup.” Feuerstein went on to challenge Christians across the country to do the same, and to share the video with friends to spread the word. The video has over 180,000 likes and has been shared over 500,000 times.

Since then, social media has been blowing up with both agreement and outrage. Some have carried out their own versions of Feuerstein’s protest, posting coffee selfies and praising companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts,whose holiday coffee cups this year feature a design that says “Joy,” surrounded by holly and snowflakes.

Many others have denounced his claims, some even creating their own designs of the Starbucks cup to mock the controversy, including Stephen Colbert’s cup idea that features a nativity scene glued to the top, a small tree attached to the bottom, and tinsel streaming down the sides. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has even weighed in on the issue at his recent rally in Springfield, Illinois, declaring, “I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know.… By the way, that’s the end of that lease, but who cares.”

Let’s take a step back for a moment and realize what we are fighting about here: We are talking about a plain red coffee cup. This is no anti-Christmas propaganda, and, for the record, none of Starbucks’ former holiday cups said “Merry Christmas” in the first place, opting instead for generic, winter-themed designs. With the abundance of Christmas decorations and merchandise that line almost every post-Halloween retail center in America, there is no lack of Christmas spirit.

Starbucks itself sells a Christmas Blend coffee, along with Christmas-themed merchandise. Christmas is so oversaturated in society that companies have to actively try to reach out to non-Christians, either through fully inclusive or generic winter-themed decoration. There have never been stories of Starbucks’ Hindu patrons being angry about the lack of Diwali spirit, or Jewish patrons demanding a menorah with their latte. There is no absence of Christmas to complain about.

Furthermore, instead of being outraged over a design on a coffee cup, let’s realize how lucky we are to be able to afford $4 coffee in the first place. I am sure that the millions of people in this country that struggle to put food on the table every day do not care about what is on the packaging of that food. We are lucky enough to be able to spend money on luxuries such as coffee, but instead of being thankful, we are caught up in completely arbitrary debates about hurt feelings and paper cups.

So, to those that are offended by the lack of Christmas spirit on your Starbucks coffee cup: Go ahead and take a stand by ordering your drink and making your barista write “Merry Christmas” on your cup. Just remember that those words are about as useful as a coat of blue paint. In the end, it will get thrown out with the rest of your coffee cup; it will do little to improve the day of your barista; it will make no real impact on society; and Starbucks will be happily receiving your money regardless.