Starbucks Red Cups: War on Christmas?

FOX_and_Friends_First_-War_On_Christmas_Starbucks*sigh* Yet another “War on Christmas!” battle cry. This year it’s over a red cup.

Yes, let that sink in. Some Christians think they are being persecuted or that there is a war on Christmas because Starbucks chose a plain red cup this year instead of one with snowflakes or reindeer. Even though there was never an image of Jesus on past Starbucks cups, the change to a plain colored cup has caused outrage and boycotts.

Here are some reasons why this is ridiculous.

1. Starbucks is not, and never was, obligated to celebrate Christmas.

They are a business, not a church. They are not obligated to promote the specific beliefs or holiday celebrations of some or all their customers. Many companies do promote Christmas, but not because they are obligated to do so; they do it to sell you more stuff. If you didn’t buy it, they wouldn’t sell Christmas themed products. Isn’t rampant consumerism and focus on profit what’s wrong with the Christmas season anyways? For once a company is refusing to give in to this financially motivated holiday mindset, and people are attacking them for it. I applaud them for not making this season all about profits at the expense of their core values. 

2. Christmas is NOT just a Christian holiday.

465934851People of many faiths as well as atheists and agnostics celebrate various versions of Christmas that have nothing to do with Jesus. Plus, there are other winter holidays! There is Kwanzaa, Hannukah, pagan winter holidays for the Winter Solstice, etc. People have many different reasons for celebrating the winter holiday season, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with Christianity or Jesus or even religion at all. Which leads me to my next point:

3. Christmas was NOT originally a Christian holiday.

According to many Biblical scholars, Jesus was likely born in the Fall, but the Bible does not give a specific date as to his birth. Let me say that again: There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th, or even in the winter season at all.

Christmas started out as a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, which is where most of our popular Christmas traditions come from. Much later on, Christian leaders combined their celebration of the birth of Christ with the already well established pagan winter holiday celebrations to please the people. The people could keep their pagan celebrations while adding in a dash of Christian doctrine. The combination of Christ’s birth and the Winter Solstice celebration is a prime example of Christianity taking over pagan holidays to make the public more accepting of their religion. I have met many Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas for this very reason. In times past, it was generally accepted that Christians should not celebrate Christmas because of its pagan origins. So why are some Christians upset that Christmas isn’t being promoted the way they want? It was never their holiday to begin with; it was pagan long before Jesus’ birth was added. At the very least it’s equally pagan and Christian. But many selfishly want to claim it as ONLY theirs. This is grossly unfair and ignores the very clear historical roots of this holiday. 

In summary: Starbucks can do whatever they want with their cups. It is not a slight against Christians, nor is it a “War on Christmas”. It’s simply a business opting to not promote one specific winter holiday, but instead remaining neutral and celebrating holiday cheer in general. Given the diversity of their customers in regards to beliefs and holiday celebrations, I think this was a very good call.

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Atheists and Christmas

heathensgreetings_lowresWhen I first realized I was an atheist a couple years ago, I had a hard time with Christmas. Christianity is so ingrained with Christmas in the US that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to celebrate it at all anymore. It made me sad, because I’ve always loved Christmas- the decorations, the music, the cultural tradition aspects… This year I am reclaiming my love of this time of year, but without compromising my strong feelings about religion.

I now celebrate the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter. Now generally known as Christmas, this is a very ancient celebration that goes back to our earliest human ancestors who gave a name to the date when the days start to get longer again. I love learning about the Celtic traditions. It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate- the natural cycles of our world are shifting yet again, winter has hit it’s peak and spring is on it’s way. I love the terms Winter Solstice, Midwinter and Yule to describe my holiday celebrations, but for the most part I still use the term Christmas because it’s what everyone I know is familiar with. Who wants to clarify every single time someone asks “Are you having a Christmas party this year?” “Well I am having a party, but it’s a Winter Solstice celebration.” “What’s the difference?” “Well… none really. It’s just food and winter decorations and social time.” “Isn’t that what most Christmas parties are about anyways?” Why yes, that’s exactly what most Christmas parties are about!

jesus is the reason for the season_thumb[2]Merry-christmasPeople say that Jesus is the reason for the season. I would respectfully disagree. Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, and saying “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” belittles and ignores the many beautiful and important winter traditions and beliefs that people hold dear. There are many reasons for the season; Jesus may be your reason, but he is not mine.

What do you love most about Christmas? Spending time with loved ones? The decorations and music? The amazing food and vibrant holiday get-togethers? Charity? Snow? Giving gifts? General good cheer? We don’t need to believe in Jesus to enjoy and appreciate these wonderful parts of Christmas. 🙂

I don’t care if you tell me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, or anything in between. If I know what you celebrate, I will likely greet you that way or by saying Happy Holidays. I respect your traditions and it makes me happy that you’d take the time to wish me a holiday greeting. 🙂 What does bother me is the insistence of many people that the rest of us celebrate Christmas with them, or that we must celebrate it the same way they do. We are a diverse and beautiful people, and it’s time that the Christian version of Christmas realizes that it’s just one of many holiday traditions, not the only one of significance or importance.happyholidays

It’s not a war on Christmas to acknowledge and respect all winter holiday traditions instead of just your own- that’s simply the polite thing to do. Let’s all try to coexist this holiday season, and respect all people’s holiday celebrations. Also, it’s not a war on Christmas to point out the true origins of Christmas, the rampant consumerism that has overtaken the entire season, or to point out Christian privilege and arrogance that is sadly so prevalent this time of year.war-600x600

I wish you all the happiest of holidays, no matter what or how you celebrate. 🙂