Happy Halloween! And no, it's not the same as Dia de los Muertos - even though several years ago a large coffee shop chain substituted Day of the Dead items like catrinas and sugar skulls for traditional Halloween items.
Halloween has seemingly invaded much of Mexico - especially in Wal-Mart stores, which are bursting with Halloween merchandise. But Day of the Dead is still widely observed and it makes up a large part of many local economies - most notably in Michoacan and Oaxaca, although strike violence is impacting celebrations in the latter location.
Traditional markets still operate in most Mexican cities, selling things for building altars, which are adorned with items enjoyed by the deceased.
Most interesting, Dia de los Muertos is finding popularity in Canada and the U.S. A Canadian anthropologist I spoke with last year said it fits with the whole trend towards indulging "New Age" things, which many yuppies have embraced in recent years. Or think of it this way: Halloween is for the kids, while Dia de los Muertos is for their "sophisticated" parents.