The Day of the Dead is right around the corner. This Mexican celebration takes place November 1st through the 2nd. During the Day of the Dead festivals in Mexico, families celebrate and welcome the deceased into their homes. They decorate alters and grave sites with food, flowers, alcohol, trinkets, and sugar skulls. These gifts are presented to the dead, because families believe that happy spirits will watch over them and bring them good fortune in the coming year.
The most recognizable symbol from the Day of the Dead celebration is the Mexican sugar skull. In recent years, sugar skulls have become increasingly popular in Western culture. However, many of us are not aware of where they came from or what they actually symbolize. In actuality, a sugar skull is exactly what the name suggests, a sugary sweet decorated to depict a skull. They are decorated with icing, glitter, foil, beads, and feathers. The skulls are given as gifts to both the living and the dead. Unlike most depictions of skulls, which are dark and morbid, sugar skulls are vibrant and colorful. In Mexico death is celebrated, not mourned.
Sugar skulls are homemade and hand decorated. The steps below tell you how to make your own Mexican sugar skull. Sugar skull molds can be found online and at specialty stores. All you will need is: granulated sugar, powdered sugar, water, meringue powder, sugar skull molds, and cardboard panels.
- Mix 2 cups of sugar and 2 tsp. of meringue powder in a mixing bowl. Once sifted together, add in 2 tsp. of water. Mix together for about 5 minutes (it’s easiest to use your hands). The mixture is complete when each grain of sugar is moistened.
- Tightly pack the mixture into the back and front of the sugar skull mold. Use a butter knife to scrape off any excess sugar.
- Let the skull dry for 12 hours.
- Once dry, carefully remove from the mold and place on cardboard panel. Use a spoon to scoop the center out of the back (flat sides) of the skull, avoiding the neck area. Leave ½ inch gap around edges. Let dry for 6 more hours.
- To make the icing (used as glue) mix 1 lb. of powdered sugar, ¼ cup of meringue powder, and 1/3 cup of water. Mix for 5 minutes.
- Using a knife, apply the icing to the flat sides of the skull. Once fully covered in icing, press the front and back parts together to form the complete skull. Remove any extra icing with your finger and let the skull dry for 2 hours.
- Now you’re ready to decorate! You can use leftover icing as glue for glitter, foils and feathers.
With your sugar skull decorated you’re ready to celebrate the Day of the Dead, and so are we here at Acapulcos Mexican Family Restaurant and Cantina! Our traditional Mexican food is a reminder of the rich cultures and traditions of Mexico. Come visit us and celebrate!