A sugar skull (or calavera) is a decorative and edible skull made from sugar to clay which are used during the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.
The most popular calaveras are created with cane sugar and are decorated with icing, beads and feathers.
Although a calavera is made of sugar, it is not meant to be eaten as it is a gift to the dead, as such, many sugar skulls are not long made of sugar but are made out of wood, nuts, chocolate, etc.
The paintings of skulls and skeletons is a representation of rebirth in the next life.
The more elegant the decorations on the sugar skull typically means the greater wealth of the deceased.
The tradition o f building private altars to honor the dead using sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite food and drink of the dead. Visiting the grave with gifts and other items.
On October 31, All Hallows Eve (Halloween), the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit.
History of Day of the Dead ~ Dia de los Muertos
Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Source