Thursday's Child: Starbucks and the War on Christmas

By now, everyone I know is aware of the controversy stirred up by some Christians about the new Starbucks holiday cups. If it's somehow slipped your attention, then you must have a life or something. Here's the bottom line. Starting in the 1970's, Starbucks began putting out a festive "holiday cup design" with ornaments and snowflakes, etc... on a red cup, soon after Halloween ended.

This year, according to their press release on November 1:

“Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season. Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world."
  In case you haven't seen the difference, here's a quick comparison:
2015 versus 2013 versions

The uproar is centered around a group of Christians who, in their ever-growing sense of entitlement and privilege, have determined that this is a signal that Starbucks hates Christianity. (see video here)

In a statement to The Washington Post, Joshua Feuerstein writes that,
"The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country. The policemen of political correctness have demanded that the silent majority bend its knee to a vocal minority." He adds: "Starbucks and others know that Americans are drawing a line in the sand and refusing to remain silent any longer."
While most of you are shaking your heads, laughing and wondering when the men in white coats are coming for him, I'm going to share some food for thought, while sipping on my Starbucks French Roast that I brew at home from the succulent whole beans that they so graciously provide for me at point of sale (no red cup needed).

1. Snowflakes and ornaments are in no way a symbol of Christianity. 

In fact, Jeremiah 10: 1-5 specifically addresses a tree decked with silver and gold as a Pagan thing that should not be practiced by followers of this god.

2. Jesus (if he indeed existed) would never have celebrated Christmas. 

He would have been Jewish, and at that time (and today in most of the Conservative and Orthodox/Ultra Orthodox sects of Judaism), Jews did not celebrate birthdays. Why? Because only their god can declare a day holy. There is nothing in the bible where God declared that day a holy day of remembrance for people to follow, and in fact, the New Testament specifically says that they are not to esteem one day over another (See Romans 14: 5,6)


3. Jesus would not have been born in the winter, anyway. 

Believe it or not, Israel gets snow. It gets cold there. In the birth stories of the Jesus, it discusses shepherds having their flocks in the field. That isn't going to happen in December. Some folks will claim it happened in the spring, but all the stories point to it taking place during the Jewish festival of Sukkot. This is a time when they all must leave their homes and build temporary shelters and stay in them for 7 days. This commemorates the time when they were out in the desert wandering around for 40 years (according to their bible). It got anglicized to "The Feast of Tabernacles", but it more accurately translates to "The Feast of Booths". Since there is absolutely no evidence that a census was called for by Rome (which is the reason the new testament claims that Joseph took his pregnant/ready-to-deliver wife and forced her to travel to Bethlehem), it makes more sense that they went "home" to celebrate Sukkot with friends and family. Jesus wouldn't have been born in a manger. He would have been born in a Sukkah. That takes place in the September-October time frame (Tishri 15 in the Jewish calendar).

4. Jesus DID celebrate Hanukkah, according to the New Testament (See John 10:22)

Christians should be following in the footsteps of their messiah. The term "Christian" derives from an old Roman insult which translates to "mini-christ". They took ownership of the term and say it means "follower of Christ". Therefore, why is there no uproar over the lack of menorahs on the cups? Why aren't they celebrating Hanukkah?

Jesus's way of life, according to the new testament, was of a Jewish rabbi (teacher) who focused on very Jewish concepts- feeding the poor, taking care of the sick, not being judgmental of others, etc... his focus would never have been on a Starbucks cup, nor on celebrating the Pagan traditions of "Christmas". He was much more interested in reminding the Jewish people of who they were, according to their agreement with God- loving, kind, caring people who had forgotten that in many ways. He lived simply, relying on the kindness of others to care for him and his followers, and he taught very much by example, so those who want to follow him have a clear road map.

Feuerstein, and those who are of his ilk, are attention-seekers. They look for ways to play martyr and victimize themselves so they can pat their own backs, satisfied in their own minds that they are going to get bigtime rewards in heaven for their "long-suffering".

I've already seen Christians trying to distance themselves from him by claiming he isn't a true Christian. The "No True Scotsman" argument fails on so many levels. Most Christians are very much like Feuerstein. They don't read the bible, nor study it against history. They don't study Judaism, which is what Jesus would have taught. They have no understanding of the 613 'commandments'* (not ten) or their application to Jewish life and thought. They don't follow Jesus because they don't have a single clue as to who this person is alleged to have been.

If Feuerstein really wanted to follow Jesus, he'd have picked up a menorah, learned how to play dreidel, and looked up some recipes for sufganiyot (Jewish doughnuts). They go really well with a good cup of coffee ;)

*The term commandments is very misleading. In Hebrew, the word is "Mitzvot". A mitzvah is both a guideline for living, and also a charitable work. Mitzvot is the plural of mitzvah.


  1. Whew! The voice of reason! I do find it funny that this is such a big deal considering the logo.

    1. LOL! I know, and guess what? it's a SIREN on the cup!

  2. You're making far too much sense :) and thank you!

  3. Generally speaking, I don't recommend the use of scriptural references when attempting to deal with issues like these. For one thing, it's "fighting on their battelfield", which is always problematic, and for another, you immediately run afoul of the "which Bible version" problem. Moreover, it's not a text I consider authoritative in any way, and most Christians I know (all of my family outside of my wife and daughter) treat their own faith more as a guideline than a strict rule, anyway. Appealing to their sense of authenticity by pulling out chapter and verse rarely works.

    That said, I do, wholeheartedly, support the idea of reasoned discourse from a position of knowledge, rather than mere opinion, and, well... this article is a real gem! Thank you so much for writing it!

    1. Hi Robert,

      Frankly, I couldn't agree more with you on quoting chapter and verse. Particularly when so many Christians take so much out of clear context- and yes, the bible version can become a huge sticking point with some. I appreciate your comments and point of view. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them!


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