Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas Movie? Experts Weigh In

Here it is boys and girls, it’s officially ~spooky~ season, and I bet you’re looking for some nice Halloween movies to snuggle under the covers with and frighten yourself for the next 364 days until Halloween rolls around again. 

Nightmare Before Christmas is one such movie that has confused generations of Disney lovers and movie goers

While the cast of spooky skeletons and manic scientists would insinuate a Halloween escapade, the heroic Santa Claus and timeline of the movie (in the aftermath of Halloween and build up to Christmas) perhaps suggest more of a Christmas vibe. 

In theory, it seems that there can be no right answer: if you’re feeling Christmas-y watch it for the snow village, the songs and Santa Claus saving the day, and if you’re feeling Halloween-y watch it for the frightening faces, the songs and Jack Skellington’s growth in his kingship of Halloweentown. 

However, leaving us without a definitive answer means that while you watch this movie to celebrate the Halloween spirit, you’ll likely be startled by the candy canes and falling snow, and disoriented with talks of Santa and a dog dressed as a reindeer in true grinch-like fashion (albeit a ghost dog). 

It does ultimately seem that the plight of Sally is to make Jack realise his true calling is Halloween and inspire an appreciation for the beauty of the holiday, yet the other message also seems to be that Santa has an overall monopoly on Christmas, and both holidays essentially have to ‘stay in their lanes’ as it were. But which lane is it, Mr Burton? Honestly, which lane?  

Since it appears that my inner monologue cannot solve this issue by itself, I decided to ask some trusted peers to see what they thought of the issue, here's what they came up with:

“It’s way too scary to be anything but a horror movie, and frankly horror has no place in Christmas!” - Lauren Ballard, HerCampus President coming in with a strong argument for Halloween. 

“I think it’s both, because it’s Tim Burton and his mind is wild.” - Keona Lau, not really giving a definitive answer but certainly putting a psychological spin on the question.

“Well that’s the core of the movie. It’s a Halloween movie appropriating Christmas elements for its own sick game. There’s nothing scarier than trying to ruin the most wholesome holiday, especially when your methods involve a character who is literally just a bag of bugs.”  - Matthew Barreto, providing an incredibly thought-provoking insight into the intricacies of this discussion.

“It’s either. Content-wise the characters are Halloween but the storyline and events that happen are Christmas, so I think it would be a nice November movie!” - Maggie DeMilt, the ultimate diplomat, actually providing a solution that might please both parties.