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Because the festive season shouldn’t be a politically charged affair.

Over the last week, the world has been torn apart by the apparently cataclysmic decision of Starbucks to remove Christmas-themed designs from its holiday cups. Since 1997, the coffee giant has switched from white to red cups every holiday season, and decorated them with reindeer, snowflakes, Christmas trees, and other imprints relating to, well, Christmas.

However, this year the ‘Christmas cup’ was a plain red affair, sans any sort of design other than the green and white Starbucks logo. When questioned about its abrupt change, Starbucks’ vice president of design and content, Jeffrey Fields stated the company wanted to embrace the “simplicity and the quietness of it”.

“This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” Fields said.

Needless to say, Christian America went a little berserk.

Some even went as far to say Starbucks had declared a ‘war on Christmas’, and coined a few hashtags (of course) to illustrate their point. (Google #WarOnChristmas; it’s interesting.) Evangelical Christian and social media uber presence Joshua Feuerstein actually recorded a video rant, urging Christians to answer ‘merry Christmas’ when Starbucks staff ask for their names.

“Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” Feuerstein’s post, which has already racked up 10.5 million views on Facebook, said.

Okay, here’s the thing. It is glaringly obvious the Starbucks cup issue is, without a doubt, a first world problem. It’s a cup. Come on. Cancer is a thing, people.

However, regardless of the pomp and circumstance of rampaging over what is essentially a barely-firm piece of paper masquerading as a drinking vessel, it’s not ludicrous to assert this is a little bit too far in the direction of a politically correct quagmire.

Before you yank out your pitchforks, think about it. You could assume Starbucks changed the theme of the cups for no other reason than to change things up a bit. That it has nothing to do with Christmas. After all, reindeer, pine trees, and snowflakes have nothing directly to do with the true Christian meaning anyway (the last I heard it wasn’t snowing in Jerusalem in the Middle East). But these images do have strong and very happy symbolism for the majority of the Western world.

Starbucks, red cups, Christmas cups, Christmas, holiday season, Christianity

The former Starbucks cup in all its glory.

So, why, considering such large numbers of people enjoy and celebrate Christmas, even in a quasi-secular form, is Starbucks eliminating the symbolism so many people have come to enjoy? More to the point, this isn’t the only example of political correctness acting like the Grinch gone wild.

Companies send out ‘Happy Holidays’ cards instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ now for fear of excluding the non-religious. Schools host ‘end of year’ concerts instead of Christmas concerts, and gingerbread men have lost their gender, leaving an androgynous, un-decorated biscuit in lieu. At the shopping complex 20 minutes from my house, they have ceased to play Christmas carols in a bid to be more inclusive on non-celebrators, even the ones that don’t directly reference Christianity.

As for sitting on Santa’s knee at the mall; don’t even think about it. Owing to the push for politically correct parenting, kids are now instructed to sit next to Santa, not to cuddle him, and Santa’s hands have to be visible at all times. Regardless of the fact the Santa in question has gone through rigorous working with children checks and sometimes police investigations.

I’m all for multiculturalism, gender equality and protecting children, really I am. But aren’t we losing sight of the bigger picture here? When did we decide gingerbread men were sexist and Santa Claus was a sexual predator? And why can’t we celebrate Christmas on a commercial scale, but still acknowledge, celebrate, and accept other religions? More to the point, why has preserving Christmas; a day of giving, sharing, and love, borne of the culture and ideology the Western world is based on (the ideologically nice parts anyway), been cast out of the sphere of preserving multiculturalism?

Eliminating the symbolism of Christmas from shopping malls, cards, and cups not only undermines a tradition dear to billions of people over the course of history, it also underestimates our ability to be open-minded, tolerant and accepting of other beliefs, traditions and cultures. I have never heard any of my Jewish friends mouthing off about Christmas carols played in shops, nor any of the parents I know fretting about their kids sitting on Santa’s lap, and as a feminist I’ve never taken issue with any of the so-called ‘gendered’ traditions associated with the festive season.

Removing Christmas designs on Starbucks cups isn’t going to destroy the planet. However, leaving them on isn’t going to grossly offend and exclude every other culture in the world either. Everyone, please just chill out and have a peppermint mocha with whipped cream and extra sprinkles.

 

Images via shemazing.com and news.com.au