This past Halloween, there was a huge rise in the number of trick-or-treaters with painted faces instead of wearing a traditional costume or mask — in particular, many chose to adorn themselves with face paint resembling that of calaveras de azucar, or, as they are more commonly known, sugar skulls. But where did this trend come from? Read on for a brief history lesson on this up-and-coming face painting trend! (And, of course, feel free to ask your Pop Art artist about being painted with a sugar skull at your next party or event!)
In past years, skulls for Halloween have been usually viewed as a rather dark and gruesome costume, usually reserved for older or more mature children. (Who remembers those awful screaming skulls with dripping blood? )
Today though, children of all ages are displaying face painted sugar skulls left and right. They are a very easy last-minute costume idea, as they only require, at minimum, two colors of face paint and a bit of practice, depending on how intricate your design is. Check out this sugar skull tutorial here: https://happythought.co.uk/day-of-the-dead/skull-face-paint-tutorial. They give your costume a very fun and mysterious feeling — it’s not exactly easy to identify someone in several layers of full face paint, after all.
The origination of the sugar skull comes from the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated a total of 3 days on and following Halloween: on October 31sth, All Hallows Eve, children make alters for angelitos, or spirits of dead children, to visit. November 1st, or All Saints Day, is when adult spirits come to visit. Finally, on November 2nd, All Soul’s Day, families decorate gravestones of their relatives at cemeteries. This is meant to be a joyous holiday celebrating the lives of deceased relatives, and the skulls are used to decorate gravestones to help guide spirits back to earth. Sugar was actually used to make skulls originally because the churches could not afford to make decorations with other more expensive metals.
Rather than symbolizing the end of one’s life, the skulls serve as a symbol of a “higher level of consciousness.” For Dia de los Muertos, the skulls are meant to be very whimsical and decorated with various colorful dyes. (Some are even made of chocolate — yum!)
Sugar skulls are a great face painting idea for kids who like to go all out with their costumes — they can be as intricate and colorful as you want! They are also an easier alternative to buying a full costume, because all you need is a little bit of face paint or makeup, and one size fits all!