Activity 3: Calaveras

Color and decorate your own Calavera. Calaveras are skulls and are an important part of Día de los Muertos.

Skulls are a reminder that death is just as sacred as life and provide a way to honor deceased loved ones. They also represent a willingness to laugh at death itself.

Calaveras are often made into candied skulls molded from sugar or chocolate. They are usually decorated with icing in bright colors and sometimes include the names of loved ones and placed on their altars.

Calaveras also have ties to political satire. Lithographer José Guadalupe Posada first printed La Calavera Catrina as a satire about aristocratic Mexicans who were becoming too European. The original image of La Catrina was popularized after artist Diego Rivera adapted Posada’s image in a mural titled, Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon Along Central Alameda), completed in 1947. La Catrina has played an important part in  the history of Día de los Muertos and has become an iconic symbol for the holiday.


Step 1

Print out one or both of the calavera images.

Download Calavera Image #1

Download Calavera Image #2

Step 2

If you pick the blank calavera, sketch your own design. Calaveras are often ornamented with flowers and designs around the eyes, forehead, nose, and mouth.

If you choose the decorated calavera, think about what colors you would like to use in the design.

Step 3

Add color!

Step 4

Consider writing the name of a deceased loved one to celebrate their life.

Writing the name of a living loved one or a person who is important to you is also a way to celebrate them and save them a place in the afterlife.