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The Day of the Dead and Halloween – What’s the difference?

The Day of the Dead and Halloween are often mistaken to be the same thing. While the occur around the same time they're very different celebrations!

Falling within a few days of each other, the Day of the Dead and Halloween are often very easily confused. While they both involve food, costumes and the topic of death, they differ in many ways. In order to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Melbourne properly, you need to know what it’s all about. So what’s the real difference between the Day of the Dead and Halloween? Let’s dive in amigos!


Halloween is known for its spooky vibes with the sharing of scary stories about death, ghosts and other frightening things. Although the Day of the Dead is about death as well, it’s a cheerful and happy occasion, rather than scary. On the Day of the Dead we honour the souls of those who have passed, as well as those living!


Typical Halloween festivities involve carving pumpkins to leave on your doorstep and decorating your house with any scary decorations your heart desires. Classic decorations include fake cobwebs, spiders and more, usually sticking to the classic orange and black theme. There are often themed parties and haunted houses around the time of Halloween and we can’t forget about the trick or treating that occurs on the night of the 31st.

On the Day of the Dead, people visit cemeteries to honour the souls of those who have died. They also gather to bring offerings to an altar where they honour the spirits passed. The sugar skulls are sometimes decorated with the name of the departed loved one, among other designs and colours. When it comes to decorations for the Day of the Dead, there’s no specific colour theme to follow. Many vibrant and bright colours are used to demonstrate joy in celebration of life!


In the past few years the sugar skull costume has become increasingly popular among those celebrating Halloween, making it more and more difficult to separate these two occasions. Modern day Halloween costumes come in many forms, ranging from sweet to scary and everything in between.

During the Day of the Dead festivities, men and women dress to emulate La Calavera Catrina, a picture of a woman in a skull face. The name translates to “The Elegant Skull” in English and has become the most popular symbol for this celebration.

Time to Feast

Ah food, the most important part of any celebration, am I right amigos? Halloween is greatly centered around lollies and treats, hence “trick or treat” and the tradition of children going from door to door. Other food involved are cookies decorated like ghosts, pumpkins, skulls, spiders etc., to get into the Halloween spirit.

Day of the Dead on the other hand takes a different approach to food with a traditional dish called Pan de Muertos, bread of dead, as well as the favourite food of the loved one who has passed. There are many other types of authentic Mexican food people choose to feast on during the celebration.

At Taco Bill Mexican we can’t hold back our excitement for the Day of the Dead. What are you doing to celebrate? We’re bringing back the Big Willi Challenge – a 2.5kg burrito of your dreams! If you think you have what it takes, give us a ring and book a table to complete the challenge. But BEWARE, because it’s not for the faint of heart!! – Find out more details about the challenge in our previous blog post!

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