The Cultural Significance of the Day of the Dead

Last Modified: September 23, 2016 at 2:09 pm by Tianna | Leave a comment


The Cultural Significance of the Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead AKA Dia de Los Muertos is a holiday dedicated to honoring the dead and has roots in both Catholicism (All Souls Day) and indigenous cultural traditions. There are many different cultures which celebrate this holiday in some shape or form, but none so famously as Mexico who do so in such a beautiful and colorful way.

Their celebrations often include altars where they light candles in honor of the dead and lay out photos, candles, marigolds, offerings of food, and other items which may have significance to the person who has passed on.

They make the favorite food and drink of the people who have passed and, in Mexico, often leave or eat them graveside to remember and celebrate with their dead friends and loved ones. The marigold is the official death flower for them because it’s believed that the vibrant color and distinct scent will help lead the dead to their altar on this special day.


Why so much effort for the dead? Many people believe that by creating an appealing offering, the spirits will bring them good luck, wisdom, protection and prosperity. Sugar skull cookies AKA pan de muerto (death cookie) are made as well as little sugar skull toys and trinkets and the now infamous sugar skull makeup.

day of the dead sugar skull makeup

Although many people probably love to do sugar skull or skeleton makeup for Halloween or something, it’s very significant in the celebration of Day of the Dead and not just a meaningless costume. If you wish to honor your passed on loved ones during this unique holiday, try creating a special altar in their honor with their favorite items, foods, candles, and some sugar skulls.

Here are some more ways to celebrate day of the dead

Do You Celebrate Day of the Dead?

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4 thoughts on “The Cultural Significance of the Day of the Dead

  1. November 2, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    You makeup looks great in the last picture! I don’t know a whole lot about this holiday, but the colors, decor, makeup and wardrobes are always so gorgeous!

    Clothes & Quotes

    1. November 3, 2015 at 4:24 PM

      thanks Shannon! It’s a fascinating holiday, but yes the decorations are always so beautiful and colorful 🙂

  2. November 3, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    I really think it’s important that someone has spoken up about this – so many people just use the sugar skull makeup as a ‘cool’ look for Halloween without any idea of the purpose behind it

    Steph –

    1. November 3, 2015 at 4:23 PM

      thanks Stephanie – I really appreciate that. I don’t mind much about the whole “cultural appropriation” costume thing. It doesn’t really bother me as I think it’s okay for people to do as long as they have fun, but I do think it’s important to understand the meaning of what they are dressing up as or what the significance is so they are not ignorant or disrespectful to the customs of others. Moreover, I think these particular traditions are really cool and interesting so why wouldn’t you want to know about it, you know? Glad you liked the post and thanks for stopping by!

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