An Inside Look at Sugar Skull Tattoos

Sugar skull tattoos are colorful representations of the sugar skulls integral to a Mexican holiday called Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. During this holiday, families build and decorate ofrendas, or altars, dedicated to their departed loved ones. Sugar skulls are an integral element of the ofrenda decorations. Learn more about sugar skull meaning before you choose this tattoo style.

Is the Size of a Sugar Skull Tattoo Significant?

The size of sugar skulls has an important meaning. Small skulls represent the souls of dead babies and children; large skulls represent deceased adults. If you have only one sugar skull tattoo, pick any size you wish. However, if you plan to have multiple skull tattoos, their size must reflect the relative ages of each person commemorated.

What Does the Forehead Writing Mean?

According to Mexican tradition, the skulls entice the dead to return to their graves on each Day of the Dead and have fellowship with their living relatives. The foreheads of sugar skulls bear the name of the soul they represent. If your sugar skull tattoo represents a specific person, do not omit the person’s name. Sugar skull tattoos done for purely aesthetic reasons have intricate forehead designs instead of names. Do not leave any area of the skull empty, and do not put writing anywhere except on the forehead.

Why Do Sugar Skull Tattoos Include Flowers?

Sugar skull tattoos are packed with vibrant marigolds and other flowers. In Mexican culture, marigolds honor and commemorate the dead. The most authentic sugar skull tattoos include bright orange-red Mexican marigolds, although other species are also acceptable. If you plan to get a small tattoo, frame it with marigolds, or use a single large marigold blossom as a backdrop.

Why Are Sugar Skull Tattoos Brightly Colored?

The bright colors used in sugar skull tattoos are a celebration of life. The skulls are not frightening or morbid and always contain at least four colors. This tradition reminds the living that their loved ones are now at peace and have ascended to a higher plane of existence that is free from suffering, anxiety and pain. Sugar skull tattoos must be bright and cheerful.

A sugar skull tattoo is an excellent, permanent memorial to a lost loved one. Those unfamiliar with sugar skull meaning often wonder about the festive colors and cheerful symbols. The Mexican perspective on death is positive and optimistic. Each element of a sugar skull tattoo symbolizes the joyful bonds of hope that connect the living and the dead.

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