Starbucks Cup Controversy

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Some American Christians are outraged with the Starbucks coffee chain because of their christmas cup. According to them, the red cup, which does not have any of the traditional Christmas symbols, is an “anti-Christian” act. The chain has offices worldwide. The storm caused by the coffee cup now counts with the support of Christians from other countries and a few famous people, such as businessman and host Donald Trump, who defended the boycott of the brand. As if pine trees, candles, colorful balls and Santa were actually Christian symbols.

If the problem these people have with Starbucks is that the cup does not have Christian symbols on Christmas, it’s ironic that they’re not upset with the company’s logo, which represents an entity that is absolutely not Christian. It’s a mermaid known as Melusine, a “spirit of water”. In African culture, the same image appears in representations of Yemojá (Yemanja in Brazil), when depicted with two tails.

Over the years, the company changed their logo a bit so that it would be more presentable. The original logo image was quite unattractive, with her breasts exposed and in a pornographic pose, with her tails spread apart; taken from an illustration in a German book printed in 1480. Over the years, she had some liposuction, plastic surgery, tossed her hair over her breasts… a legitimate makeover that transformed her into something friendlier and more politically correct. However, if you notice the sides… the tails are still there. And she continues to wear the crown of “Queen of the Sea” on her head. After all, why is a mermaid being used as the symbol of a coffee shop?

This question is so common that the company’s website has already published an answer. The inspiration for the name and logo came from its owners’ dream of “paying homage to the seafaring history of coffee”. The name of the coffee shop was taken from a character in Moby Dick, Mr. Starbuck, who was the first mate on board the Pequod. So they created a coffee shop with the name of a male character and gave it a mermaid logo… Does that make sense? No! There aren’t even any mermaids in the book.

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In an interview, the designer responsible for the logo said: “It’s a metaphor for the allure of caffeine, the sirens who lured sailors onto the rocks”. Strange metaphor, since, in myths, mermaids lured in sailors so they would smash their ships onto the rocks… So, should this be a warning to customers to keep away from caffeine before it kills them? Their website tries to embellish, “Terry Heckler found the perfect metaphor for the ‘siren song’ of coffee that lures us cupside.” It does not make much sense to want to sell coffee by using this comparison. If the siren song was intended to make the sailors lose all control, using it as a metaphor for the product is almost anti-marketing. So what is the purpose of this mermaid?

We cannot confirm that the logo’s creators knew they were worshiping an entity, but in all cultures, since ancient times, beings that were half human, half fish (or, in some cases, serpent) are the representation of the same deity, which has different names and genres: among the Canaanites and Philistines, Atargatis, Derketo and Dagon (the same image God made fall and break before the Ark of the Covenant, when it was taken by the Philistines); Oannes in Babylon; Matsyāṅganā, in India; Mixoparthenos, in Greece; Kianda, in Angola; Melusine and Lorelei, in Europe; Ningyo, in Japan; Yemojá, in Africa; Yemanja, in Brazil, among other names in these and other places.

The female deities in this list are also called “Queen of the Sea” or “Mother of the Waters”, worshiped as fertility goddesses. Here, the official representation of this entity wears a dress to syncretize better with Catholic images and hide the worship to this entity, but the representations bearing her tail also appear quite frequently.

The legends and her appearance have changed over time, each culture develops its own traditions, but the spirit it represents remains the same. The same spirit of Atargatis, Melusine, Dagon and Yemanja are revered with a mermaid image.

The most incoherent part of this story is that none of those outraged Christians questioned (or at least found it strange) the presence of a pagan goddess waving her two tails, right before their noses, on the coffee cups they love so much. On the contrary, they are coming together to complain that the cup doesn’t have enough pagan symbols on it!

Unfortunately, the “siren song” of our time, the spirit that involves this world, has blinded many Christians to the point where they no longer understand what God considers important. It is much easier to cling to traditions and confuse them with Christianity, because it requires no sacrifice, there is no price to pay. On the other hand, it does not bring any benefits to anyone.

For those who are looking in on this pseudo-Christian movement against the red cup, it just seems like religious fanaticism, with no direction or purpose, which only vaccinates people against true Christianity. I guarantee that Jesus would never have wasted His time protesting to have a jolly old man standing next to Yemanja on the Starbucks cup.

Vanessa Lampert

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