Halloween has a lot of things that surround it and they are all about dead people. We all know that Halloween is filled with images of ghosteses, witches, and things that are designed to make you scream in terror. But it is also the time of the year that dead ancestors are honored.

Dia de los Muertos and All Souls Day are two observances at the end of October and the beginning of November that some people have lumped in with Halloween, but they have nothing to do with trick-or-treating, they are actual days of celebration of our loved ones who are no longer with us. But are they the same thing with different names?

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition. Family members go to graveyards where their loved ones are buried, clean their graves, and decorate with flowers and food. This is a celebration of life, not mourning the death of a family member. Of course, the most famous aspect of Dia de los Muertos is the calavera, or the sugar skull. Women also paint their faces like La Catrina. That is what has made Dia de los Muertos cross over into Halloween territory in the US. Dia de los Muertos is celebrated from October 31 to November 2, and is not a sanctioned Catholic observance.

By contrast, All Souls Day is a day that Roman Catholics observe to remember dead loved ones. It isn’t a time for music and dressing up or leaving offerings of food at graves, it is about praying for the souls of the departed who are in purgatory.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, even if you are baptized, you die with the guilt of lesser sins on your soul. On November 2 we pray for the dead so that their souls can be cleansed and made ready to meet God. Masses for the dead are said and flowers can be placed at their graves, but this day is all about prayers for the dead.