The sugar skull tradition can be traced back over 3,000 years ago. It is a tradition for families to head to the grave site at the stroke of midnight on October 31. There, they would decorate their loved ones' ofrendas with both large and small handmade sugar skulls. •
Most of the sugar skulls are made from a granulated white sugar mixture and pressed into a skull shaped mold. After the skulls take shape, they are then decorated with colorful icing, foil, ribbon, feathers, gems, and more. It's important to take note that on November 1 (All Saints Day), smaller sugar skulls are placed on the ofrendas or graves to remember the children that have passed on. Then, on November 2 (All Soul's Day), the smaller skulls are replaced with bigger more decorative skulls for the adults who have passed on. •
These skulls are decorated beautifully, as they have the name of the deceased scrawled across the skull's forehead. Hand painted flower-like swirls and other fanciful designs are inked around the skull's eyes, cheek bones, and head. Even the colors have symbolic meaning: yellow represents death, purple represents grief, and white represents purity and hope. Along with the sugar skulls and paper flowers, it is common for photographs of the dearly departed to be placed at the altar along with real flowers, candles, religious symbols, and personal items belonging to the deceased.