Sugar skulls have a deep history in Mexican roots. Dia de Los Muertos translates to the “Day of the Dead.” This is a celebration in which sugar skulls are typically used as decorations. They are used to decorate the offering or “ofrendas.” When the Day of the Dead arrives, people around the world celebrate the festive holiday with their families. The tradition most follow is to pay tribute to their dead loved ones. Unlike the celebration of Halloween, the Day of the Dead is not meant to be a scary holiday, but it is a time for everybody to remember their loved ones who have already passed on.
The History of Sugar Skulls
It is the tradition of many families of Mexican heritage to enjoy the festivities between November 1st and 2nd. At this time, people will take the journey to burial grounds where their family members have been laid to rest. While there, they will decorate the gravestones and place offerings around them in a fun, festive, colorful and decorative way. The colors used while decorating during the Day of the Dead are not limited to one single color palette. Ideally, family members will display vibrant colors such as bright pink, purple, blues, oranges, white and black.
The most common decoration used during the Day of the Dead is sugar skulls. The tradition of sugar skulls can be traced back to more than 3,000 years previously. The tradition began with families heading to family members’ grave sites when it struck midnight on October 31st. At that time, they would place the decorations they brought on the “ofrendas” or alters of the gravesites. Most sugar skulls are made using granulated white sugar made into a mixture and then pressed into the shape of a skull.
Once the sugar skulls took shape, they would be decorated with colorful icing, ribbons, gems, foil, feathers and more. When considering the history, on November 1st, sugar skulls were made smaller and placed on the graves so that any children who have passed on would be remembered. November 1st is All Saints Day. Then, on November 2nd (All Soul’s Day), the same small skulls were replaced with large decorative skulls in remembrance of adults who have passed on.
Each skull was decorated beautifully, and they had the name of the deceased written on the forehead. Around the eyes, the head and cheeks of the skulls also bore flowers and other fancy designs. The skulls were not the only decorations that had symbolic meanings during the festivities. Each color used to decorate the skulls had a meaning of its own. Purple represents grief, yellow represents death and white represents hope and purity.
In addition to the paper flowers and sugar skulls, it is also tradition for photographs of the departed to be placed on their grave sites and alters along with real flowers, religious symbols, candles and other personal items that belong to the deceased person. Some families will also take time to prepare favorite meals, foods and beverages for their dearly departed family members. Once the meal and celebration are finished, families will place hygiene products at the altars that may include razors, washable soaps, towels and fragrances so that the spirits will have what they need to clean themselves up and return to their afterlife. Tradition says that the dearly departed would return to the afterlife until the next year.
Sugar Skull Makeup
It is not difficult to do sugar skull makeup to take part during Dia de Los Muertos. To begin, you’ll start with your eyes using a pencil to draw eye sockets. Next, you’ll draw a circle above your eyebrows and under your eye area. You may apply eyeliner or a thick pencil to your waterline to help define your eyes. Fill in the circles with black and purple paint around your eyes.
Don’t worry about being neat, because your eyes need to look shadowy. For your face, go with a white, water-based foundation. Cover your entire face before contouring with a brush around your cheekbones and brow bones. This will give you a defined, hollow look. The nose is an important look to your sugar skull makeup. Ideally, your entire nose should be painted black. For your mouth, you should also paint your lips black using a brush before drawing black lines from the corner of your mouth on both sides to connect to your cheeks. Draw lines from top to bottom on your lips to give them the skull look. To complete the look, you may add bright petals around your eyes in any color.
Sugar Skull Tattoos
Sugar skull tattoos are a popular choice for many people looking for a unique and customizable tattoo. It is also a great way to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one. More than anything else, a sugar skull tattoo can represent the celebration of life. They are not meant to be morbid and at least four different bright colors are typically used. The tradition of sugar skulls as tattoos is a way to let people know that loved ones have been able to find peace in the afterlife. Even though the history of sugar skulls depicts it as Mexican heritage, people from all walks of life find enjoyment from getting a sugar skull tattoo on their body.
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Sugar Skull Drawing
If you want to get creative and draw, a sugar skull drawing is a way to go. They are simple and easy to customize. To begin the drawing, trace the outline shape of a skull. Next, you will draw large circles for the open cavities of the eyes. Once the eyes are drawn, draw the nasal cavity in between them. Add some creativity to the eyes by drawing colorful flowers or hearts inside the eye cavities.
Next, draw a line where the mouth will go and separate the teeth from the top and bottom. Draw in the teeth and then add some designs to the chin area. Many people draw the top front tooth as a heart shape. Add some wispy and colorful designs to the sides of the skull. In the center of the forehead, draw a rose and add some petals to it. You may finish the skull by coloring it in with vibrant, bright colors. Now you have a beautiful drawing to show your friends and family.