People often compare Dia de los Muertos to Halloween. While at first glance they may appear to be similar, in truth, the two celebrations are completely different. Halloween is a European holiday that is based on their concept of death. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday which is celebrated in order to remember and honor the lives of their "passed-on" loved ones.
Dia de los Muertos was originated by the Aztecs. Their beliefs coincided with those of the Australian Aborigines. Both tribes considered life to be a dream, and when you die, you awake to your real life. Halloween in comparison is celebrated through symbols of witches, demons and monsters, none of which are ever portrayed in a positive light.
Dia de los Muertos is traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States. In celebration, Dia de los Muertos altars are created. Upon them, pictures of the deceased are placed, along with many favorite foods, drinks, and activities the deceased cherished while they were alive. Candles are lit which decorate the altars and graveyards to light the soul's way back home for this beautiful reunion. Trinkets and gifts these souls were fond of during life, are brought to communicate to the deceased that they are still very alive in the hearts of those they left behind. The beauty of the lives they lived will continue to be remembered with joy, even though they no longer share in the same 'physical' reality.