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nightmare before christmas movie poster
Walt Disney Pictures

Is Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas Movie?

Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas is an iconic holiday season movie. I never watched this movie as a child, probably because the idea of the skeletons and monsters scared me, but last year I decided to give it a shot. I ended up loving the film due to its attention to detail, the music, and the overall art of it. Now I firmly believe that this movie is the perfect Halloween movie, so I tend to watch it as soon as the weather begins to change. Recently, I was watching the movie and a friend stopped by my room and asked me why I was watching “a Christmas movie.”  I was utterly shocked as I had never heard this outrageous perspective before. Upon further questioning, my friend came to the conclusion that this was a Christmas movie due to the fact that, “the word Christmas is in the title.” Hot take. From this moment forward I have asked this question to as many people as I can and I have found quite unique results. 

The majority of my findings have been in favor of Halloween, but I have heard many reasons for both sides. Those who argue that it is a Christmas movie often tie it back to the fact that it focuses around the holiday of christmas as the people from halloween town are attempting to recreate the holiday. I have also heard that it embodies the Christmas spirit as it is overall a heartwarming movie of two people finding their place in the world after trials and tribulations. I can see where this is coming from but alas this is no Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. I suspect that the people who claim this is a Christmas movie, may not have actually paid attention during the film.

My opinion on this has been refined over the last few weeks as I have discussed this with many people. This movie takes place in a fantasy world where each of the seasons coexist separately. They do not intermingle with each other and are all focused on their sole purpose, to carry out a season. The main character, Jack Skellington, is a favorite around Halloween town as he happens to be one of the scariest members of the town. He is unhappy with this life and one day stumbles into the Christmas season and is enthralled by the happiness they all experience. He then makes it his mission to try to carry out Christmas by teaching his town what he saw. The movie follows the struggles the citizens face as well as the ultimate failure that becomes the day.

This movie focuses solely on the people of Halloweentown. They are attempting to learn christmas, but it ends up terrifying and weird because that is all they know. If the movie involved both seasons, then sure I could see the argument, but no; it is a Halloween town turning Christmas scary. The movie ends up with the town realizing that they should stick to Halloween. If the mission to carry out Chrustmas was a success, then maybe it could be seen as a feel good movie, but that is not how I would characterize the ending. 

I think that this debate is not very important in the grand scheme of things, but definitely has been consuming a decent amount of my thoughts. If you are looking for something to do in the next week to get in the Halloween spirit, definitely watch the film (and get back to me with your opinion)!

Alissandra Conlon

Holy Cross '24

Sophomore majoring in chemistry with a studio art minor. Outside of the classroom you can find me hanging out with my friends, in the dance studio, or out to dinner.
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