Skip to content

What do the colors of the Day of the Dead offering mean?

24 mayo, 2021

All the elements that exist on the Day of the Dead have a symbolic and mystical meaning, since religious, cultural and artistic beliefs coexist that enrich the different expressions of this celebration. The offering colors, for example, they transmit different messages and today we want to explain them to you.

Have you also explained why orange, purple, black and white are so abundant for this date? Read on and find out.

It may interest you: When is the Day of the Dead offering set and raised?

The colors of the offering and their meaning

Orange

marigold flowers

According to tradition, this flower guides the deceased with its aroma and color, the only one that the dead can perceive. (Photo: Getty Images)

This is possibly the most representative color of the Day of the Dead.

According to Nahua beliefs, orange is the only color that the dead can see on their return from the beyond to the land of the living, that is why paths are usually made with the petals of marigold flowers.

Other elements in which orange can be found is in confetti and also in food such as tacha pumpkin, hawthorn and mandarin oranges.

You should also know that orange was the color that meant mourning in Mesoamerican cultures.

Don’t miss: 5 facts about the marigold and how it became the Day of the Dead flower

Purple: one of the most used offering colors

Flowers for the day of the dead

Photo: Getty Images

This color has a religious background both in pre-Hispanic cultures and in Catholicism, in which it symbolizes waiting or mourning.

Let us remember that the current offering of the dead is the result of a syncretism between pre-Hispanic culture and Catholic elements.

The purple color can be found in velvet flowers, confetti and other decorative elements such as tablecloths.

You are interested: Typical flowers for the Day of the Dead

Black

Velvet flowers

(Photo: Getty Images)

In different cultures, this color is the one that represents mourning.

It seems somewhat ironic, however, the color black should not be used in the Day of the Dead offering, due to its sad nature. The Day of the Dead is a joyous celebration where we are allowed to make fun of death and everything seems joyful.

However, it is a color that remains present in some elements, such as ash, sometimes in confetti and also in the clothing of figures such as La Catrina.

You can’t miss: Mictlán: the underworld on Day of the Dead

White

4 elements of life

(Photo: Getty Images)

This color, as in many other traditions and cultures, represents purity.

For example, a white canvas or tablecloth represents the purity and virtue existing in heaven.

White is also found in the candles, which in turn, signify faith, hope and a guide for those who return from the afterlife. It is also found in the traditional sugar skulls.

Discover more curiosities about the Day of the Dead in Easy Kitchen