“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is an iconic holiday movie, to be sure, but one thing about the stop-motion fantasy has never been quite clear: which holiday is it really about?
Yes, a lot of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and main character Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King. Some would even argue the title in itself settles the debate (it’s ostensibly called “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” not “The Christmas on Halloween,” for a reason). But there are also plenty of Christmas elements once Jack travels to Christmas Town. Is it a Christmas movie that happens to take place around Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie with strong Christmas themes?
The debate has raged on among fans ever since the film’s release in 1993 (in late October, it should be noted), so much so that director Henry Selick finally had to step into the fray.
Selick, who went on to direct “James and the Giant Peach” and “Coraline,” participated in a Q&A at the Telluride Horror Show in Colorado in 2015, where he was asked by a little girl in the audience to settle the enduring conundrum once and for all. Are you ready for his answer?
“Oh boy,” Selick said to the crowd. “It’s a Halloween movie.” Ding, ding, ding! #TeamHalloween, let the vindication wash over you.
The director went on to explain that although the story of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” involves quite a bit about Christmas and that he’s consistently told that people “love [the movie’s] Santa,” the core of the film is devoted to a love of Halloween and all the spooky inhabitants of Halloween Town. Not to mention, the movie never does that thing Christmas movies tend to do where the main character ultimately learns the “reason for the season” or the “meaning” of Christmas.
Despite Selick’s response, the debate is still alive and well on Twitter, where plenty of people continue to hash it out annually during the holiday season.
Nightmare Before Christmas the best Halloween movie. Don’t debate me on this.
— myles (@mmthegrizzly) October 23, 2017
I’m drawing a line in the sand. The nightmare before Christmas is a CHRISTMAS MOVIE and there is no debate.
— Maxwell Rogers (@BigPackofWolves) October 24, 2017
Hot take: it’s a thanksgiving movie (It was the one vaguely kid-appropriate movie at my grandparents’ apartment, so it became a tradition)
— Hindi K (@Hindividual) October 20, 2017
Also majority of the movie takes place in Halloween town. The majority of the cast are Halloween characters.
— Justin Huber (@ExGaming) October 22, 2017
But, as one Twitter user pointed out, there’s no rule that says “The Nightmare Before Christmas” can’t be a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie, is there?
The Nightmare Before Christmas is clearly both a Halloween and Christmas movie yet a lot of people insist that it can only be one or the other.
— 🐸Daisy🐸 PNGtuber (@FrogDaizy) December 7, 2022