One of the most striking aspects of the Day of the Dead is the use of vivid colors and powerful symbols that represent the different elements of the celebration. It is a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away, and to celebrate the cycle of life and death.


In addition to the symbols, certain colors have significant meanings for the Day of the Dead.

  • Orange – Represents the sun and the light that guides the spirits back to the world of the living.
  • Purple – Symbolizes mourning and represents grief for the deceased.
  • Pink – Brings joy, and happiness, and represents the celebration of life.
  • Red – Symbolizes life and blood.
  • Yellow – Represents the sun and unity.
  • White – Signifies purity and hope.
  • Black – Represents the land of the dead.


Candles keep the vigil throughout the night, illuminating the way for visiting souls.


Marigold flowers are placed around the altar. Their color and strong scent create a path to guide visiting souls to the altar.


Sugar Skulls represent a departed soul, along with an acceptance that death is part of life.

Papel Picado is brightly colored tissue paper with cut-out designs. Papel Picado symbolizes the union between life and death, and the joy of life.


Pan De Muerto is a kind of sweet bread with the shape of crossed bones on top. Pan De Muerto symbolizes the body of Jesus, and it also represents gifts from the earth and hospitality.


A cup of water is placed on the altar to quench the thirst of the spirits as they make their journey from the afterlife to visit the land of the living.