Do Starbucks’ holiday cups tear us apart or bring us together?


April Platt , Class Writer

Starbucks’ holiday designs, first introduced in 1997, have become increasingly more controversial. Their first cup, in 1997, was magenta and bore a swirled design. Comparatively speaking, this first cup offers the least in terms of holiday cheer, as it contains no specific reference to Christmas or other winter holidays.

In 1999 Starbucks rolled out their first red-themed holiday cup, and the public’s interest was officially caught. From 1999 to 2015, Starbucks continued with the theme of red cups, which are released every November.

Following their initial introduction, the seasonal cups have continued to be a fan favorite. Thus, Starbucks has continued to make the cups, marking 2018 as their twenty-first year. The controversy regarding the cups began in 2015, as Starbucks rolled out a plain red design. For fans eager to see the year’s design, along with its patterns or other decorations, this plain design was a disappointment.

However, for this holiday season, fans can expect to find four varying designs, consisting of holly, stripes, a star pattern, and a houndstooth-striped pattern. The star designed cup bears a pattern with significant similarities to the star of David. This influence of religion is a stark contrast to the past years’ cups as it has a more closely tied relationship to organized religion. Interestingly, this is something Starbucks has tried to stray from in the past. However, the rest of this year’s cups lean more towards a traditional holiday design, which has caused little controversy compared to years past.

Senior Helen Innes commented on how she is usually not too concerned with the holiday cups. “I usually just order my peppermint mocha and go, but I always love seeing the new designs every year.”

For some Americans, the cups stand as a beacon for the holiday season. Due to this, the holiday cups still stand as a loved tradition, even beyond their controversy. Yet it is important to remember that holiday cheer does not simply exist in the realm of Starbucks and their holiday cups.

The holidays are a time meant to be spent with family, friends, and loved ones. The focus this holiday season should shift from cups and their weighty significance in Americans’ lives to how we can come together as a common human family. With this mindset, the cups can move beyond their artificial existence. They can come to stand as a symbol for a return to love as the holiday season begins to unfold.