What the Día de los Muertos Colors Represent
Día de los Muertos is a lovely tradition of honoring the dead. You'll often see painted faces, sugar skulls, and beautiful ofrendas inviting the dead back to the living world. The vivid colors surrounding this holiday make everything all the more beautiful. What exactly is the meaning behind these colors?
Even though people may observe Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, in cemeteries, there is nothing morbid about this holiday.
For the first two days in November, death isn’t something to be feared. Instead, death is seen as a natural cycle of life. And Dia de los Muertos helps the living celebrate the loved ones who have died.
In the past, participants and dancers used careteas, or masks, to scare the dead away at the end of the festivities.
But in modern-day celebrations, people paint their faces to look like skulls, decorating it to represent a deceased loved one or an expression of themselves.
Annalisa Rios, a Phoenix Friedas artist and face painter, said she always celebrated the holiday with her family, but she understood the deeper meanings behind Dia de los Muertos when she got older.
“I think the most important things to know is that (people usually associate it with) Halloween, but it’s not,” Rios said.
What colors, symbols mean:
Dia de los Muertos is known for its vibrant colors. Here are meanings behind some of the colors and symbols you’d see on Dia de los Muertos, according to Rios.
Yellow – Represents the sun and unity, because under the sun, we’re all the same.
White – Using this color in decorations represents spirit, hope and purity.
Red – Represents blood and life.
Purple – For this holiday, purple represents mourning, grief and suffering.
Pink – The bubbly color signifies happiness.
Marigolds – People spread petals from these round, yellow-orange flowers to guide spirits of loved ones to the celebration.
Ofrendas – Altars that are festively adorned with decorations, candles, food and photographs.
Calavera – Sugar skulls that are created to resemble the deceased.