Day of The Dead: The interesting meanings behind different colours

This Mexican holiday for celebrating your deceased loved ones is full of colour. But what does each one mean?
Day of The Dead: The interesting meanings behind different colours

Yep, you read that right. Day of The Dead (aka. Dia de los Muertos) is, quite frankly, a multi-day Mexican holiday, with the sole purpose of celebrating deceased loved ones. And we think that’s pretty cool (which is why we wrote a whole guide on it here).

What we love most about Day of The Dead – other than its celebration of something that’s typically very depressing – are the colours, flowers and symbols of the festival. So we thought we’d indulge ourselves and write a whole guide on all of the above. Because we think they’re cool, and that’s that.

The colours behind Day of The Dead

If you’ve ever seen movies or done a quick ‘Day of The Dead’ Google search, you likely would’ve come across bright colours, face paints, and dress-ups, props, sugar skulls, and more. All of these colours? Well, they mean something. They weren’t simply chosen because they look nice – there’s meaning behind each and every one of them.

Orange (Naranja)

This is likely the colour you would’ve come across most. It’s an iconic Day of The Dead colour, often present in marigolds and other flowers that are used to decorate altars. Orange is said to be the only colour visiting souls from the afterlife are able to see, and hence, it can be a way for Mexicans to communicate with their deceased loved ones.

Purple (Morado)

This is often used for crafting and papel picado (Mexican folk art). Purple is historically linked to Christian beliefs and has commonly been used to symbolise grief and loss.

Yellow (Amarillo)

Naturally, you’ll see a lot of yellow during Day of The Dead, as candles often light up altars, processions and graveyards. Yellow symbolises light, and the flames that emanate from lit candles are interpreted as a representation of a deceased soul.

White (Blanco)

You’ll often find white in many Day of The Dead themed items. It can be found in candles, sugar skulls, flowers and table clothes, and it’s said to symbolise purity, hope and innocence (when someone has died young).

Pink (Rosado)

Pink is seen as a symbol of joy, and might be present in a range of Day of The Dead props and flowers. Day of The Dead is a happy time for families as they are able to celebrate and connect with their deceased loved ones. The colour pink represents this happiness.

Blue (Azul)

It’s likely unsurprising that blue represents… water! You’ll often see lots of blue amongst Day of The Dead festivities; it’s a way of providing water to thirsty souls as they arrive. The colour blue can also represent a loss of life to water.

Red (Rojo)

Symbolising blood, red honours the souls who died in battle, and the mothers who died during childbirth.

Wrap up

So, you’ll find heaps of fun and vibrant colours when celebrating the Day of The Dead. They all represent something different, and can be used for a wide range of decorations and costumes.

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