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#ItsJustACup: The 2015 Holiday Controversy

Every year, shortly before Christmas there is some “it” item. The one thing that everyone seems to want. The buzz is endless and come Christmas day, all of your friends will proudly Insta their receipt of said item. This year, the pre-Christmas buzz is not about the latest tech toy or Tickle Me Elmo, it’s about a cup. A red cup. One with a Starbucks logo on it.

You, like millions of other people, are probably wondering why Christmas has been ruined because the Starbucks cups are just red. These beacons of warmth and caffeine are clearly failing us because they have no snowflakes, no reindeers, no Christmas trees or multicolored lights. Christmas is clearly ruined because my Starbucks cups contain only the caffeine I’m seeking, not images of Christmas cheer. What Scrooges!

But really, what has the world come to? #ItsJustACup. It is not meant to be an image of Christmas, because they are holiday cups. Not Christmas cups, not Hanukkah cups, not Kwanza cups, they are holiday cups. And if we’re being completely accurate, they are coffee cups. In that regard, my Starbucks cup does everything I could ever want it to: it gives me caffeine on cold, blustery mornings and during my midday slump in the afternoons; it even understands when I choose something iced because it has been 60 degrees in November in South Bend.

If my Facebook newsfeed can be counted as evidence, it seems that no one actually thinks the red cups are a problem. Sure, we all love snowmen and snowflakes, but like Starbucks, I’m perfectly happy for cups that promote inclusivity rather than exclusion.

According to the Starbucks press release, “Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season.”

What a novel idea. The release continues, “Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”

Despite this welcoming message, people like Joshua Feuerstein, an Arizona-based evangelist who thought it was clever to tell a Starbucks employee that his name was “Merry Christmas,” are convinced that “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” or at least that’s what his Facebook rant was about. Feuerstein said, “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.”

If we’re being completely accurate the cups are two-toned and bear a Starbucks logo, so the cups are not just plain red, but I don’t think Feuerstein, or anyone who is convinced that “The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country” and that “The policemen of political correctness have demanded that the silent majority bend its knee to a vocal minority,” will really care about particulars.

As many have pointed out, the Holiday Cup Debate of 2015 is just a glaring example of #FirstWorldProblems. While Social Media explodes over the red cups, real-world problems like hunger, homelessness, poverty, disease, domestic abuse and other social ills are ignored. But people like Feuerstein thinks its clever to wear a Jesus Christ T-shirt to a Starbucks and bring their gun, because Starbucks “hates” the Second Amendment. (Open-carry is legal in Arizona).

Feuerstein insists, “Choose to not be politically correct,’ just correct,” but it seems that he simply doesn’t understand the ombre cups. Jerry Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, said: “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

Whether or not you agree, you’re always welcome to take a sharpie to your cup during class to make it more festive. Or maybe you’re not looking for Christmas or Christ in your Starbucks cup, just caffeine. You could always pull a Trump, who suggested, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks?” Though, that’s probably ill-advised, what with final papers, projects and exams coming.

While I’m arguably more concerned about Trump insisting that, “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas,” I’m not concerned about the color of my Starbucks cup. It’s red. It holds my favorite warm, caffeinated beverages. It’s on my way to class. At the end of the day, #ItsJustACup. I don’t need it to be symbolic of anything more. I’m more concerned about Mizzou, the refugee crisis, immigration, racism, the wage gap, the Myanmar elections, and those who are homeless as winter approaches. Even as we enjoy the memes such a stupid controversy has created, let us not forget all of the other more important issues that need our attention this holiday season.

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Sources: 1, 2



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Maria Fahs

Notre Dame

Maria is finishing her Masters in English at Notre Dame. She has read many good books and several bad books, but she usually tries not to finish those. Her current favorites are: 1984, The Book Thief, The Tragedy Paper, Code Name Verity, Dr. Copernicus, I Am the Messenger, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and of course, Harry Potter. She is writing her second thesis on Harry Potter, exploring notions of authorship and reader agency in the digital age. She even managed to write her Capstone on British Children's Literature and designed her own Directed Readings Course on Notre Dame history during undergrad. Her favorite way to read is with a mug of tea and scented candles. When she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she can be found binging on the BBC (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin [RIP]). Her favorite color is purple, she studied abroad in London, and she enjoys being an amateur painter. She harbors a not-so-secret dream of one day writing a children's book, but until then, she is likely to be found reading them and writing letters whenever she gets a chance. She hopes to teach English or work in a university sharing her love of education.
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