Back to Activities

The Sugar Skull

Day of the dead, a very lively tradition

Imagen de The Sugar Skull

Mexicans know how to bridge the gap between art and food, especially during the celebration of the Day of the Dead. In the case of preparing the calaveritas de azúcar, or sugar skulls, they are specialists.

There are sugar skulls of all sizes and for all tastes. The name of the deceased is usually placed in candy or paper letters. As well as traditionally purchasing ones with the name of any person with historical or personal importance.

Some of the main elements of this tradition are the cempasúchil flower and the sugar skulls, no celebration would be the same without them and we encourage visitors to travel through the different states to see how each community incorporates them into the season.
They can be found everywhere and they are eaten or stored and given away at Christmas parties. Visitors take them as souvenirs of the celebration. 

The first appeared replacing the skulls that were used in pre-Columbian times to honor the gods.

Characteristically without a nose, bulging eyes, colorful and to some extent funny, the sugar skulls have prominent cheekbones and they seem to enjoy, alongside the locals, this celebration.

They are meant to remind us of death, that inevitable step that follows life on Earth and the unknown world between the earthly and the mystical. They are of all sizes and painted with no regard to form, almost as if a child who is just beginning to paint his first strokes painted them. 

Some are elaborated with more details. It is thought that the Arabs first took them to Spain and it was then woven into the native traditions in Mexico.
They are made with egg whites, lemon, a substance called chautle and sugar. Using European techniques, the famous alfeñique, which also uses sugar, hot water and lemon to create a mass similar to caramel. Sugar skulls are delicate. The sugar skulls molds are made of wood, mud, or bronze. The color decoration of each skull is made with egg white, food coloring, and icing. Some represent skulls of gods, for example of Mictlatecuhtli, the god of the underworld.

Visit the Festival del Alfeñique in Toluca, State of Mexico, where there are exhibitions, and the Museum of Alfeñique Museum, which houses five permanent exhibition halls dedicated to sugar skulls

Follow our Playlist and get to know the Story of the Day of the Dead on Spotify