The 1993 stop-motion animated classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas has sparked decades of debate over whether it is best to watch this movie on Halloween or Christmas? Many would probably say Halloween for its spooky visuals and ghastly characters, but there are a few reasons why The Nightmare Before Christmas is undeniably better to watch during Christmas time.
Let’s start with the most obvious reason: Santa Claus appears in the film. That on its own is one of the most evident signs the film is geared for Christmas. Any movie that features Saint Nick is made for the holidays, and Santa is one of the most famous icons during that time of the year.
Another reason it’s best for Christmas is that it’s a really hilarious parody of the holiday, with tons of inventive allusions to story tropes and motifs commonly found in Christmas films.
An example is Jack’s pet ghost dog, Zero, who is an amusing callback to Santa’s favourite reindeer, Rudolph, with his bright red nose. The movie’s satire earns it a place among other jolly comedies for the winter season.
The Nightmare Before Christmas can also bring more diversity to the usually squeaky-clean look of Christmas movies. The film still explores popular moral lessons about the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to be ourselves while unpacking these themes in new ways.
The film delves into what it’s like for another culture to learn about this new holiday. Jack and his people are shown being fascinated with Christmas for the first time ever. We see characters learning eagerly about this special day rather than trying to save or stop it. This is something we normally don’t see in other Christmas movies.
The film does have that Tim Burton touch that we’ve seen from his other gloomy animated film Corpse Bride. However, the holidays give us the time and space to ponder on the messages the film is trying to pass on to us. We won’t have this same thoughtful mindset on Halloween because we’ll be too busy binge-watching horror movies and eating candy.
There’s a charm to Jack being curious about Christmas that makes the movie meant for the holidays. His child-like innocence towards Christmas evokes how central the holiday spirit is to us and why we should never lose it. The Nightmare Before Christmas reminds us to always nurture this attitude despite our personal problems with ourselves and social worries about the world.
By the time Jack’s journey comes full circle, we learn the importance of being ourselves and valuing what we have in our lives. That’s a wonderful message to pass on to kids and families over the holidays, since this season is all about remembering what makes our lives special.