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Day of the Dead, remembering the departed

8 months and 9 days of countdown until Day of the Dead 2023. Get your Catrinas ready!

What is Day of the Dead and when does it take place? People celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 1st. It’s a charming festivity full of color, food, and a deep appreciation for those who have departed. Learn who celebrates Day of the Dead and the many ways of doing so in different countries. In the meantime, have you decorated some sugar sku... Show more

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Day of the Dead designs: guiding your creations to the afterlife

Symbols

Day of the Dead symbols and meanings: unveiling the source of its traditions

Day of the Dead Color Palette

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  • HEX rgb(165, 11, 152)
  • RGB rgb(165, 11, 152)
  • CMYK rgb(165, 11, 152)
  • HSL rgb(165, 11, 152)
Download color palette

File available in .ASE format

Dark magenta, the elegance and balance of a vivid color

To answer what colors represent Day of the Dead, we start with magenta, one of the first synthetic dyes in history. It was created by two British chemists during the 19th century, and it received its name after the Battle of Magenta, in Italy. Both the name and the dye were a success! You can’t get the eyes off magenta because of its energy and intensity. Dark magenta is as special as its lighter counterpart. It’s a vibrant hue that is very saturated and full of energy. It symbolizes harmony, benevolence, evolution, and change. It’s the color of balance, inspiration, and love. This touch of positivity and peacefulness is the perfect one to celebrate Día de los Muertos and the life and death of your departed loved ones.

  • HEX rgb(242, 34, 169)
  • RGB rgb(242, 34, 169)
  • CMYK rgb(242, 34, 169)
  • HSL rgb(242, 34, 169)
Download color palette

File available in .ASE format

Hollywood cerise, the brightest pink of the fifties

Hollywood cerise is a mixture of a bright pink and magenta. This color made its appearance in the roaring twenties, although it was called simply Hollywood. Thirty years laters, its name was changed to Hollywood cerise. It was a cherished tone for lipsticks and colored pencils. This hue represents love and compassion, but also playfulness. It’s a calming color, able to transmit kindness and warmth. This reddish pink connects very well with Day of the Dead. This celebration is about nurturing and loving your departed ones, but also about enjoying this process and being happy when the souls pay a visit. Add Hollywood cerise to your altars and get the most out of life.

  • HEX rgb(242, 135, 5)
  • RGB rgb(242, 135, 5)
  • CMYK rgb(242, 135, 5)
  • HSL rgb(242, 135, 5)
Download color palette

File available in .ASE format

Elding Ring orange, an energy bust to celebrate Day of the Dead

Elden Ring orange is a light shade of orange. It resembles the tone of marigolds, orange flowers for Day of the Dead. Supposedly, they are very helpful to lead the souls of dead relatives to their earthly homes. The symbolism of this type of orange is a very significant one for Mexican people: it’s the color of the connection between death and life. Psychologically speaking, this light orange radiates happiness, abundance, security, energy, enthusiasm, and fun. Put sadness away and let the festivity begin: prepare your altars, get some marigolds, sugar skulls, and enjoy with your departed loved ones.

  • HEX rgb(242, 183, 5)
  • RGB rgb(242, 183, 5)
  • CMYK rgb(242, 183, 5)
  • HSL rgb(242, 183, 5)
Download color palette

File available in .ASE format

Midas finger gold, a positive hue that mixes yellow and orange

Midas finger gold color is a rich and saturated tinge that combines yellow and orange. Happiness is painted in this color, but it also evokes a playful feeling and tons of optimism. Both yellow and orange are vivid colors, and they denote a potent joie de vivre, an exuberant enjoyment of our time in this World. Midas finger gold is also to be seen at sunrises and sunsets, so it’s a color linked to beginnings and ends–and to the life cycle itself. Here lies the importance of this yellowish orange: it describes in a very visual way the importance of life. Isn’t it the perfect shade for Day of the Dead?

  • HEX rgb(12, 184, 178)
  • RGB rgb(12, 184, 178)
  • CMYK rgb(12, 184, 178)
  • HSL rgb(12, 184, 178)
Download color palette

File available in .ASE format

Jade gravel, the color of the calm seas and oceans

The color known as jade gravel is a type of greenish blue, similar to other hues like peacock blue or turquoise, for example. It is the color of lakes, oceans, seas, and rivers, but also of the tint of the sky. As this color has a clear connection with nature, it’s a tinge that symbolizes inner balance, serenity, peace, introspection, and stability. Day of the Dead is a celebration full of energy, color, and power, but it’s also about paying homage to the ones that departed. It is a time for meditation and self-examination, and jade gravel adds that touch of equilibrium and positive calmness.

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Day of the Dead history: a look into its pre-hispanic heritage

Day of the Dead traditions are the roots of this very relevant festivity, and not only for Mexican people. It has influenced films, home decorations, music, paintings, and many more. But what of the origin of Day of the Dead? It’s a Prehispanic celebration with some Christian touches added to it after the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Did you know that during the Prehispanic period, people thought that offerings helped the souls of the dead in their journey to the afterlife? They even had their own guardian dogs (Xoloitzcuintle) to guide the deceased to their final resting place! Immerse yourself in Day of the Dead facts that have led to the most picturesque and marvelous festivities on earth.

100 B.C.-550 A.D.

The four types of heaven

Teotihuacan, the origins of Day of the Dead

What is the history behind Day of the Dead? To understand this festivity, one needs to go back to the times of the Teotihuacan civilization in Mexico. Teotihuacan people made offerings for the sake of the souls of the dead. This ritual helped the spirits reach any of the four different types of paradise, depending on the age of the person. The most typical offerings were food, seeds, jade, knives, copal. For example, when the deceased person was a teenager, the community offered vegetables and animal bones. Clay pots, sugar canes, and food were preferred for adults.

1300 to 1521 A.D.

The Aztec cult of death

Tlaloc, Omeyocan, Mictlan, and Chichihuacuauhco

Offers were a vital part of Aztec burials, as happens with Día de los Muertos today. This included items that had been used by the deceased, together with many things that would be helpful for them in the great beyond. They were also buried with a Xoloitzcuintle, a dog breed, as these animals were thought to guide the soul of the person after his or her death. In fact, after dying, souls had to wander for four years until they reached one of the four heavens. Tlaloc was the paradise of those who died in the sea, because of diseases related to water (gout, dropsy), or to sacrificed kids. Omeyocan was the final destination for warriors, women who died during labor, and sacrificed slaves. Mictlan was the resting place for those who underwent natural deaths, while Chichihuacuauhco was the place for babies and small children.

16th century

The role of All Saints’ Day in Day of the Dead

The Spanish colonization of the Americas and other Prehispanic traditions

The Spanish colonization of the Americas had many effects on the Americans. In this respect, some native and Spanish traditions fused: the Spanish had a celebration to honor those that have passed away, known as All Saints’ Day, celebrated on November 1st. So, do Spaniards celebrate Day of the Dead? Well, they don’t specifically celebrate it, although All Saints’ Day has a lot in common with Day of the Dead! The native death cult inherited a lot from All Saint’s Day, so a very primitive version of Day of the Dead started taking place on November 1st. This celebration had Prehispanic elements, like offering food and drinks to the souls, but it also drew different details from Christianism. Spiritually speaking, this cult was shaped following the idea of God, resurrection, and remembering the dead with flowers.

November 7th, 2003

Day of the Deads as Intangible Cultural Heritag

Day of the Dead and UNESCO

November 7th, 2003 is a turning point in the history of Day of the Dead. The richness and historical development of this tradition has led to UNESCO declaring it intangible cultural heritage. It’s simply amazing! Day of the Dead helps create a feeling of identity for different cultures, as in the case of Mexicans. It is a very magical and cherished tradition, as it combines Prehispanic rites with Catholic conventions. Moreover, these religious beliefs and traditions merge with agriculture, as it happens when it’s time to cultivate maize, their most important type of crop. Death and life coexist, creating a unique sort of tradition worth to be acknowledged.

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Where is Day of the Dead celebrated?

Día de los Muertos is a major celebration for Latin America, but with celebrations gone global, what countries celebrate Day of the Dead around the world? This tradition is deeply rooted in ancient civilizations such as the Aztec, and many other countries pay homage to their dead relatives by making altars. Let’s learn and understand how do people celebrate the Day of the Dead in countries like Bolivia, Guatemala, Argentina, and the United States.

Bolivia

Ajayus, tantawawas, prayers, and cemeteries: celebrating Day of the Dead in Bolivia. Day of the Dead is a very special festivity for people in Bolivia. They go to cemeteries during two days, on November 1st and 2nd. This celebration starts at midnight (November 1st) and ends the following day at noon. It’s so because ajayus, the souls of the dead relatives, come back from the mountains on the other side to live with their families and friends for 24 hours. They clean the tombs and they place different types of foods, fruits, drinks, candles, or photographs of their deceased relatives there, among other things. You’ll also find tantawawas, human-shaped cakes with colorful faces, in the altars. They are said to represent the dead person. Apart from that, they also include bread ladders representing the ascension of the souls to heaven. As you can see, this is a merry celebration; Bolivians don’t really see death as an end. They consider death to be the end of a cycle. Isn’t it a wonderful point of view?

Guatemala

Guatemala Day of the Dead traditions start from the grave with people decorating tombs, painting them with colors, and adorning them with different sorts of flowers in Guatemala. As they like to spend Día de los Muertos and the following one at the cemetery, they carry cold cuts with them to eat there, as they don’t need to warm up this type of food. Did you know that his tradition began with the ancient Mayans? Another typical thing to do is flying barriletes. They are colorful kites, and they are quite big as well. These huge kites are a tool that makes communication between live and dead people possible–given that you fly it over the tombs, of course! Have you ever heard about the carrera de las ánimas? Some (drunk!) jockeys ride horses in this race that takes place in Cuchumatán, Huehuetenango. As you can see, there are plenty of interesting things to do in Guatemala if you want to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

Argentina

Día de las almas, the Argentinean version of Day of the Dead. People celebrate Day of the Dead in Argentina as well, mostly in the northwest of the country. Compared to other areas, the Argentinian celebration presents some differences. In places like Salta and Jujuy, this day is called Día de las Almas. They celebrate Día de las Almas with altars made out of stones, as nature (and Pachamama, Mother Earth) are very important for Angentineans. They offer food and drinks to the souls of their dead relatives. This way, the spirits will be comforted and it will be easier for them to reach heaven. In addition, altars are also adorned with items that belonged to these dead loved ones. It helps them find the way to their earthly homes. Additionally, you will also see many ladders there, as they are thought to lead souls to heaven too.

United States

Day of the Dead in the US: tradition, art, and modernity. Day of the Dead is an important celebration in the US. Many Latin immigrants live there and they are still attached to their own roots. Depending on the city and state, you’ll find several activities. For example, the largest Day of the Dead in Southern California is to be seen in Santa Ana. On this Noche de Altares, people make altars to honor the deceased loved ones and the ancient traditions. You’ll also enjoy their tasty food, concerts, art exhibitions and children’s activities. In Los Angeles, the Self Help Graphics & Art Mexican-American cultural center organizes a Day of the Dead celebration that combines political elements with traditions. In San Francisco, you’ll also see street altars at Garfield Square. In Tucson, Arizona, there has been a beautiful All Souls Procession since 1990. If you prefer candlelight processions, El Campo SAnto Cemetery in Old Town San Diego, California, organizes one on this day. The Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston also prepares activities and people create elaborate altars for the departed ones. As you can see, many American communities and organizations are involved.