The True Meaning Behind the Plain Red Starbuck’s Cups

Plain Red Starbuck's Cup | Money Savvy Living


It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting colder. Warm winter coats come out, snow starts to fall. Every child is on their very best behavior because they know that Santa is taking note… Christmas is almost here.

And this year, Starbucks has caused controversy with their plain, red cup to celebrate the holiday season. Or as the controversy goes, lack of celebration of Christmas.

It is truly unclear where this “controversy” actually started. It really doesn’t seem that Christians are actually upset about the plain red cups that Starbucks is using this year for their holiday cup. In fact, if we look at the Starbuck’s Christmas cups that were used over the last few years, a strong Christmas theme isn’t really prevalent… the cups typically feature more winter themes…


Starbucks Cups | Money Savvy Living


So once and for all, let’s put the controversy to rest. The true meaning behind the Starbucks plain, red cup this year is to celebrate the beauty of Christmas in a simple way. A very basic, yet profound, message.

It is not necessary to have decorations, expensive presents, fancy clothes, or attend every holiday party. Rushing out on Thanksgiving night to be first in line for the most popular toys, video games, or TVs that are on sale isn’t important either. Don’t be sidetracked by the beautiful “things” of the season or get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle of buying the perfect present. Don’t spend so much time focusing on everything about the season that we forget the true reason why we celebrate Christmas.

The first Christmas night was not celebrated with a big party, fancy clothes, or decorations.

The first Christmas took place in the stillness of a manger, surrounded by the subtle sounds of the animals. A young mother had just given birth to a baby boy. She and her husband were undoubtedly tired from their travels and stressed by their lack of accommodations. The birth of the savior was not accompanied by fanfare and pageantry.

I don’t know the motives behind Starbuck’s plain red cup this year. I don’t really know if there was a reason that Starbuck’s chose to use a plain cup this year rather than one with snowflakes, evergreen trees, carolers, or even ornaments. And while I don’t really think there is a controversy over this—in fact, I don’t know anyone who actually cares—instead of choosing to be offended by the lack of acknowledgement of Christmas, or even letting this story prevail, let’s instead choose to look at a potential good explanation of the plain red cup.

After all, red is a traditional Christmas color and has significant meaning associated with Christmas: “From Santa’s cozy suit to Rudolph’s glowing nose to ribbon-framed wreaths, red is the most visible color of the season. The vibrant shade has strong cultural associations with love, health and power. Winter greenery that sprouts red berries, such as holly, is especially popular at Christmas. Santa’s red suit originated with St. Nicholas of Myrna, a red-robed Greek bishop who gave presents to children during the fourth century, notes the encyclopedia “Religions of the World.” Red is also a powerful religious symbol used to represent the death of Jesus and the passion of the Holy Spirit.”

Perhaps, we can all learn a lot about Christmas from a plain, red cup. Focus on simplifying your Christmas this year and taking time to remember that Jesus is the true reason for the season.




  • Agreed. I think the people making fun of the Starbucks controversy are having way more of a hayday than the people who were outraged about it. Let’s just all move on, right?

  • Yeah, I think the entire thing with the red cup is just ridiculous. It’s just a cup that holds your delicious coffee.

  • I really don’t know anyone who is actually upset about these cups. I think it was a brilliant marketing strategy!

    Regardless of all of that, I love your take on this. A reminder of simplicity, which is definitely my motto this Christmas.

  • That’s what I thought, too. I didn’t understand why anyone would be upset by plain red. Maybe no one really was. Isn’t silly how some things go viral like that?

  • I missed the whole Starbucks red cup thing, and by the time I figured it out, it was over. I like what you have to say about Christmas, about striving to simplify the holiday.

  • So true! Stylistically, I love the simplicity of this years cup. I was happy to see how simple they were this year. What a great way to tie Christianity into it. I enjoyed learning the history of Christmas and red. Thanks!

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  • What a lovely explanation! As a Christian I sure wasn’t upset; I just thought they were boring. Now I think of them in a whole new way!

  • Eloquently stated. Love this.

  • A nice simplistic Christmas, now that sounds lovely. I think we are all a smidge guilty of going over-the-top for the holidays. We want the best for our families, we want to emulate what we see on Pinterest, Instagram, and other blogs, but that’s not what it is all about. For me it’s about closeness, family, thankfulness, and giving, BUT sometimes I’m just as guilty in getting wrapped up in the hoopla of it all.

    The Starbucks cup controversy was insane. Some guy on YouTube made a silly video it went viral and you know how we are with flashy lights. I thought it was ridiculous when in the man in the video proceeded to pull out his gun to show that he in fact brought in a gun too. He was talking about taking the Christ out of Christmas, but then he brings out a gun, that doesn’t scream baby Jesus’ birthday to me.
    Anyway, sorry to go on; I like your explanation much better.
    I couldn’t understand why people did not turn to their left or right and see the Christmas Blend and see that Starbucks isn’t an evil Christmas-hating company.

    It was nice finding you at Small Victories. 🙂
    Wishing you and your family a beautiful week!

  • I had no idea what the big deal about the cups was, but I think anyone will be upset about anything without a reason and people just jump on the bandwagon. It’s a bit ridiculous. That said, the cups feel festive whether plain red or with designs. I’m sure the decision was more about not having to pay a designer and cutting costs than anything bc they’re a business lol. great post!

    stop by and chat with me ♥

  • I really don’t understand the controversy. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and unless I’m mistaken, Starbucks isn’t a “Christian” company. Let’s all just not drink the overpriced, over roasted coffee. Easy solution! And yes, I’m still cranky from traveling!

  • So very well said. We often miss those special moments during this season when we get caught up in the craziness. I’m focusing on a simple Christmas this year, glad you are too.

  • People will make controversy over anything these days. I like your take on this situation – yes, let’s simplify the holidays and life in general and just relax with a good cup of coffee.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I really didn’t understand why people were so hype about the cup. It sounds so ridiculous lol

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