The Cup Controversy

Wouldn’t be great if that red cup was actually for Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day and NOT for Christmas/Winter Holiday Season?

Probably not what’s going to happen.

So why the controversy over a red cup? Why do people want reindeer or snowflakes or nativity scenes or stars?

Okay, the last two are easy to answer. You want a baby Jesus on the cup because you’re Christian and you want your holiday remembered by all. But what about the 2 dozen other winter holy days and festivals that are celebrated world wide?

So the star of Bethlehem would be better, right? It represents the fulfillment of a promise made by Yahweh to the Jewish people and the birth of Christ. Well … it is also the national symbol of Israel and Starbucks is probably avoiding any sort of political controversy by keeping one particular country’s emblem off their cups.

Reindeer? Hello secularism. If you want to remember Santa Claus (aka Saint Nicholas, aka Sinterklaus) he has his own holiday on December 6th and his traditional symbol in Holland is the boot or shoe, along with Black Peter and coal. I haven’t brushed up on my folklore so I don’t remember where the reindeer came in first, but there are MANY different versions of and traditions surrounding Jolly Old St. Nick (including that he was not fat but a tall slender man in bishop’s robes) so why reindeer on a cup? Why not boots? Or lumps of coal? (no wait, don’t answer that last one, black blobs on a red cup? It would look like shit).

Snowflakes? I thought we were arguing about Christmas. You do know that it didn’t snow at the first Christmas? And that hundreds of years ago the early Christians moved Christmas to December to coincide with the Pagan Yule festivities to make it easier to convert them? So the snowflake is more of a winter symbol, not a Christmas symbol.

And the Christmas tree? Yup, Pagan symbol for life in the midst of the cold, dark, death of winter. It was adopted by Christians around the same time they moved Christmas. Many of our now traditional holiday symbols are borrowed from Pagan culture because the sentiment of their holiday (Winter Solstice) and the metaphorical symbols of Christmas closely aligned. (We’re talking life, light, and hope)

There are over 2 dozen holy days, holidays, and festivals celebrated in December. And in North America we are a multi-cultural lot. There is no war on Christmas going on. I’m Catholic, and I feel that the secularism of Christmas is more of an attack on my religious holiday than red cups!

North America didn’t belong to Christians first. Remember that. We are ALL immigrants here. If you don’t practice a Native American faith then your faith began somewhere else and is just as valid as the next immigrant’s. We celebrate freedom of religion here. That means respecting the other festivals that occur in December, and getting over your sense of religious pride. We are all valid, we are all welcome, we are all celebrating something.

So let’s celebrate. Let’s say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or whatever makes us happy. When someone says “Happy Chanukah” just say “And to you” or “Merry Christmas” or whatever you want. Smile at each other. Wave.

Because winter festivals share much in common with each other. We are all searching for hope, peace, light, and life. So let’s search together, each in our own way.

Whatever you celebrate in the weeks ahead, may it be joy-filled, peaceful, and full of family, friends, and hope for the future.