Here is a good article on the similarities and differences between the Day of the Dead and Halloween ...
While the above article emphasizes the differences between the two holidays as they exist today, there are some similarities in the ancient origins of Halloween and Día de los Muertos beyond the dates and the costumes.
The Celtic tradition called Samhain (sow-in), which Halloween dates back to, was celebrated on October 31 and marked the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of winter, a season then associated with darkness, cold, and death and was believed to be a time when the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. During the period when the Romans ruled the Celtic lands, Roman festivals were combined with Samhain. One of those festivals was called Feralia and commemorated the passing of the dead.
Later, as described in this History.com article the celebration evolved to eventually become Halloween:
“On May 13, A.D. 609, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.
By the 19th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. In A.D. 1000, the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead.
All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.”
Later immigrants, including the Irish fleeing the potato famine, brought the festival with them to America, where it was further influenced by various ethnic groups and even Native American beliefs and customs. Today the celebration of the dead and the religious overtones that were inherent in the origins of Halloween, have been transformed into ghosts and goblins, parties, and trick-or-treating. But it is interesting to note that, although mostly forgotten in America, there is a common history of celebrating the dead in both Halloween and Día de los Muertos.
Comment from: [Member]
This is a very informative article. Thank you Rich, I really enjoyed it.