José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913) had a lot to do with the popularization of the human skeleton. Posada was an engraver and artist who did his most famous work during the late 19th century in Mexico City. Posada made the print titled "La Calavera de la Catrina" (skeleton of an ornately dressed woman). The print is a parody showing a Mexican high society woman as a skeleton wearing human clothes. Catrina figures like the one presented in the print are very popular for the Day of Dead even today. The figures satirized all elements of society, particularly the upper-class, government officials and the church. Death became an “equalizer” of injustice.
Calacas/calaveras are usually joyous characters and seeing calaveras used as decoration all over Mexico, at all times of the year, show that they represent a celebration of the inter-relationship of the living and the dead. They signify the triumph over death and therefore become a celebration of life.
Just take a look at these colorful and flamboyant "ladies." You just have to smile.