Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? What classifies a movie as either Halloween or Christmas themed? This week, I turned to Wheaton community members to figure this out.
Out of the 10 students that responded, four said that it is a Halloween movie, four said that it is both a Halloween and Christmas movie, and two said that it is a Christmas movie.
First, I would like to present the arguments in favor of The Nightmare Before Christmas being a Halloween movie. Guthrie Hartsfield ’23 said that it was one-hundred percent a Halloween movie. He explained that “the conceit of the film is changing the attitudes of the Halloween community. Christmas could be replaced by any major representation of “joy,” but the Halloween atmosphere is necessary.” I agree that the film maintains a Halloween atmosphere especially since the movie is about explaining Christmas to those in Halloween Town, where the atmosphere, characters, and backdrop are all Halloween centered. Nicole Janerio ’23 agreed that it’s “a Halloween movie because the movie is about what happens before Christmas, not during Christmas.” This is also a super valid argument.
Possibly, it’s a combination of atmosphere and literal timing of events that make a movie represent a certain holiday. Two more Wheaton community members agreed that The Nightmare Before Christmas was so obviously a Halloween movie that it required no explanation as to why. Harry Topol ’22 said that the movie is “Halloween for sure!” Ruben Trejo ’23 backed that statement by saying “It’s a Halloween movie. It just is there’s no explanation.” Sometimes, things just are and there is no proper explanation as to why, and that’s okay.
Next, I would like to present the arguments for The Nightmare Before Christmas being both a Halloween and Christmas movie. Katie Hubbard ’24 said “I think it’s the perfect combo movie. You can watch it either occasion and have it be acceptable.” She just generally made the claim that the movie can be viewed either as a Halloween or a Christmas movie. Nora Gross ’23 and Jake Gammon ’22 also support this argument. Nora said that “It could one-hundred percent [work] for both holidays for me,” while, Jake agreed that the movie “works perfectly for both holidays, you get a healthy balance of both so, in theory, it’s a Hallowmas movie (or a Christ-o-Ween movie if you will).”
Another more developed and specific argument in support of the movie falling into both the Christmas and Halloween category was made by Eva Danielson ’22. She made the argument that it acts as a transition movie between the two seasons. She said that “it is both a Halloween and a Christmas movie but it’s best watched at the beginning of the Christmas season. The Christmas season lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 27. But, if you watch it at the beginning of the Christmas season, it is a great transition into the Christmas season from the Halloween season. So, I do think that it’s best watched in early November, but it is both a Halloween and Christmas movie.” I don’t have much to say about this argument other than I love how Eva defined the perfect period of time for the movie to be viewed while also defining what constitutes the official ‘Christmas season.’
Now, I will present the arguments made in favor of The Nightmare Before Christmas being a Christmas movie. Ashley Valentine ’22 said “The Nightmare Before Christmas is definitely meant to be watched around Christmas time, but I think it is perfectly suitable to watch it as a Halloween movie too. [The decision] comes down to the morals and symbols films commonly use in Christmas/horror movies.” Ashley brings up an important point about intentional symbolism used in movies to create the theme. One argument that seemed to be more strongly advocating for The Nightmare Before Christmas being a Christmas movie was made by Jillian Hanson ’22. She said that “it is a Christmas movie because it takes place the night before Christmas and ends with the old man learning the meaning of Christmas and becoming a good person, and it’s not even scary, the only thing that makes it a Halloween movie is the fact that there’s a ghost. So it is a Christmas movie.” Honestly, I am kind of confused by this argument because almost every character in the movie is Halloween themed, ‘m and the only ghost is Zero, Jack’s pet ghost dog.
In my opinion, I believe that The Nightmare Before Christmas can be best seen as a Halloween movie particularly because it is classified as a Halloween movie on Disney Plus. Also, I feel like all of the characters and the setting relates much more closely with Halloween than it does with Christmas. That being said, the argument that it is a perfect transition movie to enjoy between the Halloween season and the Christmas season resonated with me the most, and I feel like it is a logical way to argue that it can be both a Halloween and Christmas movie. Basically, the movie is more of a Halloween movie than Christmas, but it can definitely be viewed as both since it is such a perfect way to transition between the seasons.