63ºF

Sugar skulls tradition dates back to Aztecs

Sugar skulls are Dia de los Muertos tradition

Photo credit Leslie Spurlock Fine Art and Fashion Portraiture

SAN ANTONIO – Sugar skulls are a Mexican tradition, thought to be rooted in Aztec culture, that are part of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.

Sugar skulls were originally made of molded sugar and colorfully decorated.

The names of dead family members were written on the foreheads of individual sugar skulls.

The skulls would be placed on gravestones, in windows and on fireplace mantels as encouragement for the spirits of dead family members to return to earth.

Dia de los Muertos celebrations give people’s ancestors an opportunity to visit their families from the afterlife.

The belief in an afterlife can be seen through imagery on the sugar skulls. Flowers symbolize life and cobwebs symbolize death.

Dia de los Muertos festivities start at midnight on Oct. 31 and continue through Nov. 2.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton

Mary Claire Patton has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT including the Austin bombings, the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and Hurricane Harvey.