Sugar skull tattoos are associated with the Mexican tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead. Well, while skulls and death depict mourning, sadness, and loss, sugar skulls, on the other hand, depict festivity. ThoughtfulTattoos throws light on this aspect, elaborately explaining what a sugar skull tattoo symbolizes.
What Exactly is a Sugar Skull?
The practice of making skulls from sugar is an integral part of the Mexican tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos). These skulls symbolize honor to the spirits of the dead, who are believed to visit their families on this day.
Día de Muertos is celebrated on October 31, November 1, and November 2. It is believed that the heaven opens its gates at midnight on October 31, and the souls of little children (Angelita) are permitted to reunite with their family for 24 hours; adult souls visit the next day.
The origin of celebrating in honor of the deceased traces back to almost 2,500 to 3,000 years. Traditionally, these artistic skulls are known as Calavera, which means ‘skull’ in the Spanish language. Unlike the general perception of skulls and death, the sugar skulls are a festive means to honor, remember, and celebrate this day, dedicated to those who’ve entered the afterlife.
The term ‘sugar skull’ comes from the ancient tradition of preparing skull-shaped candies made from sugar. While the skull is usually plain white in color, what adds vibrancy to the sugar skull is the decorative elements such as flowers, candles, and leaves in bright colors such as yellow, blue, green, and orange that give the skull a lively look. Basically, what it reflects is that the dead are not really dead. They are happy in their afterlife. The miniature sugar skulls are offered to the spirits of the little children, while the full-sized sugar skulls are offered to the adult spirits.
Meaning and Symbolism of Sugar Skull Tattoos
With skull tattoos becoming a rage among many tattoo lovers, especially those who are intrigued by the whole concept of life, death, and the afterlife, sugar skull tattoos remain to be a popular choice. The one thing unique about these tattoos is the fact that they are not dull, or negative in any way. In fact, the artistic blend of colors, flowers, and the funny dash of skull-y smiles make these designs look very vivacious, and so is the perception of their wearers!
Honor of the Dead
There are many tattoos that are inked solely for honoring the one person you valued the most, and who is no more a part of the living world. A sugar skull tattoo is a great way of honoring the dead, with their names inked alongside. What we love about this meaning is that when you’re honoring them, you’re doing so with a smile, and they too are accepting it with one―most sugar skulls have a smile on them!
Interconnection of Life and Death
The beautiful Day of the Dead tattoos with beautiful portrait-like images of a person with roses and skull-ish designs on the face is a representation of our inner struggle between beauty (life) and ugliness (decay). It symbolizes that after a beautiful life comes death. This tattoo is ideal for those who struggle or accept between this truth.
These tattoos use various elements to beautify the skull design, and these elements are what make it a sugar skull tattoo. Marigold is believed to be the flower of the dead. A lot of decoration is done around the eyes with these flowers to symbolize life; cobwebs act as a contrasting element representing death. Many times, burning candles are placed inside the eye circle, symbolizing remembrance.
Death is Spiritual
For many, death is a scary reality, while for others, it is a spiritual truth, an inevitable journey to the afterlife. There are various proofs of the belief in life after death, the most prominent being that of the Egyptians, who mummified the death and buried them with material objects so that they could use them in the other world. If you are among those who share this belief of death being a spiritual journey, then this is one tattoo that will signify this without any spooky or mournful feeling.
Return of the Ones Who’re Gone
The Day of the Dead is celebrated so that the souls of those who have left this world return to their families and pay them a visit this day. It is believed that heaven opens its gate this day for the souls to meet their beloved people on earth. A tattoo of this theme signifies that the departed shall return into their lives and reunite.
Like many other tattoo themes, a sugar skull tattoo is deeply spiritual if you think of its meaning. However, it is also a favorable choice for those who are artistic and love the kind of art and colors that form this intriguing tattoo design. These are the tattoos that signify the spirit of life, the respect of the dead, and the acceptance of life and death.