There are only a few things that define American culture as much as the iconic Starbucks brand. But then again, there are only a few things that define American culture as much as petulant citizens making problems out of nothing. We are blessed to live in a time in which we can see the two battle in the war against Christmas.
On Nov. 1, Starbucks debuted their new holiday cups. What in the past was filled with graphics of reindeer, candy canes and holiday lights has now been reduced to a solid red. On Nov. 5, evangelical pastor Joshua Feuerstein posted a video on Facebook, which has now reached over 12.8 million views, explaining why this cup symbolized the destruction of Christmas.
“Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new holiday cups?” he raged. “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.”
Multiple people followed Feuerstein’s lead, and took to social media to boast about how they had “trolled” Starbucks by forcing them to print “Merry Christmas” on their cups. Others expressed their anger via Twitter. According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, there were over 40,455 tweets surrounding the red cup controversy that used the ironic hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks within four days of Feuerstein’s video. Several evangelical groups also rushed to support Feuerstein, including Faith Based Consumer, which urged Christians to head to Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme for their coffee fix instead of Starbucks.
Despite how seriously an extreme group of individuals took the matter, the majority of America reacted by mocking the alleged offense. Comedian Ellen Degeneres even touched upon the issue in a monologue by sarcastically referring to her red cup as a “Satan sipper.”
So, if most of the population sees the controversy as a joke, why has it become such a huge cultural sensation? It seems that each year, claims are made against major corporations for being too secular.
The term “war on Christmas” then seems almost as iconic as Christmas itself. However, the origins of this annual spectacle are unclear. Some say it dates back to 2004 when the “The O’Reilly Factor” first aired the segment “Christmas Under Siege.” Others credit the John Birch Society, which in 1959 ran pamphlets accusing the United Nations of “poisoning the 1959 Christmas season with their high-pressure propaganda”.
Regardless, the “war on Christmas” has become a sad tradition. Each year, the attempts of major corporations to create a less discriminatory environment result in some of the previously privileged taking offense. This throws people into a social media frenzy, and the media writes about the concerns as if they are serious.
It’s a tired cycle. There is no such thing as a “war on Christmas” and there never has been. Resistance to the idea that the Christian faith has a monopoly over the month of December, and apparently November as well, is nothing but justified. Continued controversy only forces stereotypes upon the majority of the Christian population.
The fact that Starbucks sells a Christmas blend, an advent calendar, a Merry Christmas gift card and a Christmas tree ornament clearly points to the fact that Starbucks hates Christmas, right?
“Wake up America,” says Feuerstein.
“Wake up Feuerstein,” says America.