Starbucks’ red cups are back in stores for 2015, which means it is officially the holiday season again. Some groups are not feeling the festivities, however, as this year’s relatively minimal cup design has convinced a couple Christian groups that the coffee chain is waging a “war on Christmas” by not being festive enough for the season.
Starbucks rings in the holiday season with a red cup every year. In previous years, some designs have feature snowmen, ornaments, snowflakes, hand-drawn reindeer, or other wintery symbols. This year, however, the cup is a subtle, solid red with an ombré effect that goes from light at the top to dark at the bottom. The Starbucks logo is still green. The design is minimalistic, trendy, and Instagram-friendly, and according to the Starbucks website it was designed “to give people a piece of calm” during the holidays.
According to Fox News, however, some Christian groups see the lack of reindeer and snowmen as a sign that the coffee chain is anti-Christian and waging a “war on Christmas.”
“This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefited Starbucks," wrote Andrea Williams of the U.K.'s Christian Concern.
According to Salon’s Erin Keane, some customers have allegedly gotten so upset about the perceived erasure of Christmas at Starbucks that they have started a protest movement in which they order drinks from Starbucks, but when the baristas ask their names they say, “Merry Christmas” instead. The idea is apparently to “trick” the baristas into saying “Merry Christmas” when they announce that the drink is ready.
It is unclear how that protest is supposed to hurt the coffee chain--which is still selling its “Christmas Blend” coffee and Starbucks cards that say “Merry Christmas” right by the registers--but protesters have been posting selfies of themselves with their Christmas coffees under the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks.
Starbucks, meanwhile, says this year’s red cup is about presenting calmness and simplicity in the face of the hectic holiday season.
"Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays," Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks’ vice president of design, said in a statement. "We're embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it."