Starbucks released the design of its annual Christmas cup–and it’s drawing a surprising amount of controversy.
This year’s design is a solid red cup, with the green and white Starbucks logo in the center.
Despite being in Christmas colors, the simplicity of the design–devoid of the holiday themes of years past–has led many to claim that Starbucks is quietly attempting to minimize Christmas.
Joshua Feuerstein, an Arizona pastor, took to social media to express his frustration with the international coffee giant.
In a video viewed 11 million times, Feuerstein asserts that Starbucks employees are “banned from saying Merry Christmas” and that the company is trying to play the Grinch this year because they “hate Jesus.”
He urged supporters to give their name as “Merry Christmas” when ordering at Starbucks, so baristas would have to write it on their cups.
Feuerstein, who gained attention last year when he demanded a Florida baker make him an anti-gay cake as a protest to businesses being forced to make cakes for gay weddings, is one of the louder voices on social media.
But he’s not alone in wondering whether Starbucks is intentionally trying to be less Christmas-focused with their Christmas design. In fact, many have taken Twitter by storm, using the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks, to express their displeasure.
Starbucks, however, claims that the design was simply for aesthetics–and wasn’t intended to offend:
“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Starbucks’ Vice President of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
He added: “Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it.”
But the controversy over Starbucks might be overblown. Starbucks continues to sell its seasonal “Christmas Blend” coffee, has holiday symbols on its gift cards, and even sells Advent calendars.
It’s also worth noting that the “Christmas symbols” from past years’ cup designs were more themed around winter than Christmas. While designs were on a bright red cup, they usually featured ice skates, snowflakes, and snowmen–there was never any religious or even overtly Christmas-specific imagery.
Regardless of the controversy, Starbucks seems to have no intention of changing their cups–so, this Christmas, it’s solid red or nothing.