The Nightmare Before Christmas… Or Halloween?


Everyone has probably seen Tim Burton’s popular movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, whether it be on the last day of school before winter break, or on a crisp autumn night. But is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? This is a popular debate filled with controversy. 


Although the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, is from Halloween Town, his whole journey revolves around Christmas. The entire movie takes the viewer through the process of what it takes to successfully make December 25th perfect. Although Skellington doesn’t succeed, he is trying so hard to immerse himself in the traditions. From the big tree in the center of town, to the lights strung on every house, Jack Skellington is enamored by the magic of Christmas Town. Not only is he attempting to recreate this holiday, so are the rest of the Halloween townspeople. They help by making gifts and preparing Jack’s sleigh for his journey. The movie also features Skellington’s very own Christmas song called “What’s This?” The lyrics depict many Christmas traditions such as “people singing songs” and  “electric lights on strings” as well as “roasting chestnuts on a fire” and “hanging mistletoe”. The movie ends with snow falling over Halloween Town. Clearly the last picture the creators want viewers to see, is the people of Halloween Town enjoying the Christmas spirit. 


Regardless of the previously stated points about Christmas, in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, there are certainly many undeniable spooky hints that scream Halloween. Henry Selick, the director of the movie, tells USA Today that “It’s obviously about Christmas, but for me, it’s a Halloween movie,” Despite its name and the involvement of some Christmas characters and objects, certainly, the overall tone and mood of the movie perfectly describes Halloween. One reason why is because of the obviously Halloween-like characters like the main character, Jack Skellington whose character is evidently created from a skeleton and Dr. Finkelstien, who has clear relations to Dr. Frankenstein. Also, imagine how the viewer can easily interpret characters like Jack Skellington’s dog, Zero, who is a ghost, Oogie, Boogie, and the witches as spooky Halloween rooted roles. Additionally, the movie mainly takes place in Halloween Town, which is where Jack and the other ghoulish residents live. Not only that, but the movie includes music like the song “This Is Halloween” which states, “pumpkins scream in the dead of night”, “trick or treat ‘til the neighbors gonna die of fright”, “teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red”, and “fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair. Undoubtedly, these lyrics reflect exactly the traditions and features of Halloween.


Whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie, it is undeniable that Tim Burton created an unforgettable movie that will forever bring joy to people. The blend between the Halloween-like characters and the Christmas plot is just right. The two holidays work together seamlessly to generate a perfect picture, which at the end of the day, is all that matters.