The Nightmare Before Christmas

Is ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ a Halloween or Christmas movie?


Olivia Sherlock and Claire Powell


 The commercial spirit of Christmas is about giving, togetherness, joy and family.  

Just because the pumpkin king Jack Skellington is a skeleton, doesn’t mean he can’t be the main character in a Christmas movie. 

“The Grinch,” “Scrooge” and “A Year Without Santa,” are all considered iconic Christmas movies are watched by families to get into the festive spirit. 

Another thing these movies have in common is a protagonist without a Christmas spirit overcoming their preconceived notions on the holiday. 

“The Nightmare Before Christmas,” although set in Halloween Town, is based on people with more creepy than joyful spirits, coming together to trade their spider webs for stockings. 

The main characters may hail from HalloweenTown and Jack may be the crowned pumpkin king, but there would be no story without the journey and obsession with Christmas Town. 

Jack desperately tries to spread Christmas joy and the jolliness of Saint Nick the way he knows best. 

Unlike the Grinch or Scrooge, he doesn’t need anyone to convince him to give in to the spirit. Jack just feels the joy, happiness and love the holiday gives. 

This movie is a testament to how wonderful giving can make someone feel, even if they are the pumpkin king. 

Though Halloween Towns’ gifts and attempts at spreading Christmas joy is not quite as successful as the big man in the red suit, you can’t say they didn’t make a solid effort.

You would never criticize your aunt for getting you an itchy sweater two sizes too small because you know she’s trying her best.

If anything, them failing at gifts and decorations, is just a super honest reenactment of what Christmas can be. 

Most people are not as giving and happy-go-lucky throughout the year as they are when it’s December. Everyone can relate to seeing these holiday ideals and trying to meet them, but ultimately failing. 

This is all not to say I won’t watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in October, but I’d also watch it in July, March and every single month of the year. Because if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the Nightmare Before Christmas is a piece of cinematic art. 


I know it can seem to be difficult to justify why Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Halloween movie when it says Christmas is the title, but it’s actually quite clear.

The ‘90s classic is placed mainly in Halloween Town and features, what’s that? Oh yeah, Halloween characters. Whether it’s Oogie Boogie, Corpse Kid or all of the witches, they are all Halloween-based characters. Even the main character’s name is Jack Skellington, who is a skeleton and known as the Pumpkin King. 

Some might argue and say that because Santa Claus was featured in the film, it’s automatically a Christmas movie. Can one fat man in a red suit really make that big of an impact? No, he cannot.

This isn’t even Jack’s first Halloween film. In 1988, he appeared in another Tim Burton movie, “Beetlejuice.”

Even the movie’s first song is called “This is Halloween,” and although there is a song in which Jack discovers Christmas Town for the first time, you hardly ever hear people singing their “Christmas classic” from “The Nightmare Before Before Christmas.”

If that doesn’t convince you enough, Henry Selick, the director of this Halloween hit movie, said it is a Halloween movie, not a Christmas one. The goal of movie was not Christmas but Halloween, a time of weirdness and self-acceptance.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a movie for all ages, but just as Jack realized in the graveyard: “This is Halloween.”