The myth of Christmas: Starbucks’ “holiday” cups are not an insult

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or at least it would be, had Starbucks not ruined everything good that comes along with Christmas.

By now you most likely know Starbucks has removed patterns and images from its famous red holiday cups, a move that has prompted a vicious online response from some Christians saying the coffee chain has fundamentally uprooted the meaning of Christmas. The hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks continues to trend on Twitter, and the sentiment has been echoed in in Starbucks locations across the U.S. as angry patrons have passive-aggressively given the hashtag to baristas when asked for their names.

It’s easy to understand the frustration with the coffee giant’s move to minimize their cups — taking away the adornments on the cups devalues the authenticity of the Christmas story. Without snowflakes and sleigh bells, Santa busts and spruce trees, there can be no accurate depiction of Jesus’ birth (the true reason Christmas is celebrated).

This belief is maintained by those in protest despite overwhelming analysis which indicates Christ was born in the summer — in Bethlehem, of what is now Palestine, no less — in which snow would not fall, and where spruce trees do not grow.

A false culture of Christmas has been created and upheld by those who claim to be Christians, but who fail to recognize the fallacies in their beliefs. This season, instead of donating to the poor or feeding the hungry, those who express anger at Starbucks are instead marching to its stores, spending egregious amounts of money on ill-sourced coffee, shaming innocent workers and taking pictures and posting them, encouraging other like-minded individuals to do the same.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has gone so far as to suggest a boycott of Starbucks. However unlikely this may be, the question begs to be asked: How can any true Christian have the peace of mind knowing that, if thousands of workers don’t receive paychecks this holiday season because of a boycott, at least Christ will be kept in Christmas?

Starbucks should be applauded for its new design. Instead of continuing to perpetuate the false ideology of Christmas, Starbucks now allows its customers to remember what Christmas is actually about, and what it is to truly be a Christian. Christmas is not about Santa and it is not about snowflakes. It is about being good to others, treating each other with respect and dignity, and reconnecting with good faith.

The recent events in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and elsewhere prove the senselessness in this discussion. The “war” on Christmas, as some Christians are calling the movement toward an increasingly non-denominational retail industry, is in reality a myth. The “myth” of Christmas is the comfort found in a jolly man who exploits child labor to produce toys for other, “more deserving” children. The myth of Christmas is the snowflake that only allegedly falls until Dec. 25. The myth of Christmas is that it is the “season of giving,” when most people just take, but don’t give what is needed to those who need it. It is inappropriate to utilize the word “war” in discussing Christmas when people around the world are fighting and living in actual wars, feeling actual pain and watching their loved ones die.

Meanwhile, in America, we are arguing about a coffee cup.

Alan Bennett is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Maine and Culture Editor at The Maine Campus. His personal interests include food and dining, music, and health and fitness.

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