Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas Movie?

Don’t forget to vote in the poll!


Movie Summary (includes spoilers):

The movie begins with the song “This is Halloween.” Within the first five minutes of the movie, we meet the two main characters: Jack Skellington and Sally. The residents of Halloween Town are congratulating Jack on another great Halloween night, but he sulks off saying that it’s the same every year. Sally watches Jack sing “Jack’s Lament” which is a song about how he’s tired of the same old thing. Jack walks through The Hinterlands, the wooded area outside of Halloween Town, and finds the Holiday Doors leading to the other Holiday Worlds, including worlds for Saint Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Jack is sucked through the Christmas Holiday Door into Christmas Town. Jack explores Christmas Town while singing “What’s This?” in his confusion and amazement. Back in Halloween Town, everyone is freaking out because they can’t find Jack. Once Jack comes back, he asks the Mayor to call a town meeting where he shares his findings. The others don’t understand, and Jack looks for a logical way to explain Christmas. Jack goes to Dr. Finkelstein, Sally’s creator, to get equipment. Sally escapes her tower to bring Jack a gift and she sits outside his house and picks petals off of a flower. The flower turns into a Christmas tree and then catches on fire, a premonition that Jack’s Christmas will be a disaster. Jack works on his experiments all night, and in the morning comes up with a solution, yelling “This year, Christmas will be ours!” to the people of Halloween Town. Jack tells Lock, Shock, and Barrel the secret plan to kidnap Santa Claus. Sally tells Jack about her vision and tells him that this whole thing is a mistake. Lock, Shock, and Barrel go through with the plan and bring Santa Claus to Jack. Santa Claus is sent down to Oogie Boogie who terrorizes him. Sally uses her fog juice to cause a thick fog to stop Jack. Instead of giving up, Jack uses Zero and his red nose to lead his sleigh. Jack’s first house is a fail and the parents of the frightened child call the police. The gifts keep waking up and frightening each family. The military starts shooting at Jack and the reindeer which leads to Jack getting shot out of the air. Sally goes to save Santa Claus and is caught by Oogie Boogie. Jack decides he wants to save Christmas and goes to save Santa Claus and Sally by killing Oogie Boogie. Christmas is saved as Santa is able to give children their real gifts. Santa brings snow to Halloween Town and everyone is happy. The movie ends with Jack and Sally kissing.


Arguments for why it is a Halloween movie:

  • The movie begins with the song “This is Halloween” which makes it pretty clear that Halloween plays an important role in this movie.
Could it be any more obvious?
  • The main character of the movie, Jack Skellington, is a skeleton. What screams Halloween more than a skeleton?
I’ve never seen a character in a Christmas movie take off their head
  • The characters of the movie are the scary and creepy types of creatures that you only see in Halloween movies. Oogie Boogie, Dr. Finkelstein, Sally, Mayor, the Clown with the Tear-Away Face, Undersea Gal, the witches, Lock, Shock, and Barrel are all seen throughout the movie. Santa Claus is the only main Christmas character in the movie.
Oogie Boogie man = Creepy
  • Overall, the movie has a more creepy/scary feeling than a happy/jolly feeling.
Would you really see this in a Christmas movie?
  • The movie was released in theaters on October 29, 1993. The movie being released 2 days before Halloween is a strong argument for it being a Halloween movie.
  • Danny Elfman, the film’s composer, and Henry Selick, the movie’s director, have called The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie.


Arguments for why it is a Christmas movie:

  • Christmas is in the title!
I don’t see Halloween anywhere in the title
  • Jack Skellington’s pet ghost dog Zero was inspired by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Jack even uses Zero to lead the skeleton reindeer through the fog.
Zero was inspired by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Lots of Christmas images are seen throughout the movie, including snowmen, Christmas trees, and presents.
Holiday Door leading to Christmas Town
  • Part of the movie takes place in Christmas Town.
Jack’s First View of Christmas Town
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas is very similar to The Grinch. Both the Grinch and Jack steal Christmas, just in different ways.
Jack realizes that the solution to his problem is to make Christmas his own
  • A majority of the movie takes place between October 31st and December 25th, which is after Halloween and during the holiday season.
Countdown to Christmas in Halloween Town
  • At the end of the movie, everyone accepts that Christmas is good as it is and that there is no need to change it.


My opinion:

Although I understand both sides of the argument, I personally still see The Nightmare Before Christmas as a Halloween movie. Even though the whole movie surrounds Christmas, the feeling of the movie is one of a Halloween movie. The feeling after watching The Nightmare Before Christmas is very different than the feeling after watching Christmas movies like ElfThe Polar Express, and Home Alone. Since there are so many aspects from both holidays, you can really watch this movie at either time of the year, but I’ve always watched this movie in October rather than in December. Would I really be writing this article shortly before Halloween if I thought it was a Christmas movie?


Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas movie?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.



Note: All images are screenshots taken from The Nightmare Before Christmas movie and the “This is Halloween” music video on Youtube. All images are linked with the movie/video they were taken from.

Want to watch the “This is Halloween” music video?

Want to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas so you can form your own opinion? Find it on Disney+ or buy/rent it online! For the images above from The Nightmare Before Christmas, I took screenshots from the full movie that was uploaded on Youtube, but it is possible that it will eventually be taken down due to a copyright claim by Disney. Here is where most of the images in the article came from: