What Is Papel Picado & Why Is It Used During Day of the Dead?

Papel picado is a beautiful form of perforated tissue paper that can often be spotted on the streets of Mexico.
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Common illustrations from this traditional Mexican folk art include animals, floral designs, and skeletons.


During Day of the Dead, papel picado serves as a symbol of the fragility of life.


The yellow and purple colors often used during Día de Muertos symbolize purity and mourning, and it is believed that the holes in the tissue paper make it possible for the souls to travel and visit us.

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When the wind blows, it creates an especially magical and spiritual feeling reminding us that the season has arrived and our ancestors are coming.

Day of the Dead Altar Inspo

Images: Arturo Canseco (top left), Corona Claudia (top right), Enraizarte (bottom left), Frontera Media (bottom right)

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About the Author

LUISA NAVARRO

Mexican-American journalist, former national news producer, and graduate of Boston College and Columbia University School of Journalism. Her mission is to shed more light on the beauty and traditions of Mexican culture. This website is dedicated to her grandmothers, Tita Susana and Tita Lupita, who taught her to be proud of her heritage and to always remember where her ancestors came from.

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