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

We all know and love the 1999 Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. I personally watch the stop-motion animation film year-round. However, the movie is played on cable networks during both the months of October and December. So the question remains: Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or a Christmas movie?


It definitely contains elements of both horror and cheer. But is one more prominent than the other? I’ve come up with a scoring system based on the elements of this film: characters, setting, plot, and theme. Whichever holiday receives more points will be the winner.


When we look at the characters of the film, the majority of them are Halloween characters. Our main focus is Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king. He is literally Halloween royalty. The only non-Halloween character that we meet and has lines is Santa. Our antagonist of the film is also a terrifying monster,the one and only Boogie Man, known as “Oogie Boogie.” One point for Team Halloween.


The movie is set both in the land of Halloween and Christmas Town. We start in Halloween and transition to Christmas as the film progresses but eventually make it back to Halloween. So, the real kicker is when the film takes place. The majority of the plot is from November 1st to December 24th. Prime time for a christmas movie to take place! One point for Team Christmas.


We follow Jack’s downward spiral and the Halloween crew’s obsession with Christmas and their desire to steal it to make it their own. Everyone has their own job in the process, whether it’s making gifts, kidnapping “Sandy Claws,” or creating reindeer. Then, on Christmas Eve, Jack becomes Santa and tries to bring Christmas to everyone! However, instead of joy, he leaves the children of the world with terror and horror-filled christmas gifts. I guess this is a half-point for each side.


The theme of the movie in my opinion is, One: be yourself. Two: Christmas is not brought by toys and songs and Santa... But Christmas spirit. Kind of like How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Because “be yourself” doesn’t emulate any holiday, the theme of the movie must give a point to Team Christmas.


The final score is Halloween: 1.5 points. Christmas: 2.5 points! Because of these reasons, I would have to say that Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is in fact a Christmas movie. Besides, “Christmas” is right there in the title anyway which probably deserves a bonus point. Regardless of the fact that the opening number is entitled “This is Halloween,” we can’t help but feel cheery and giddy at the end of the film. 


But, enjoy the film whenever you want! I watch it in October, December, March, July…. and every other month too. Whatever holiday spirit it gets you into is the category it will fall in.