Did you know the true origin of “Pura Vida”, the famous Costa Rican phrase? Find out its true origin in this article.

We come with an interesting fact.

The expression “Pura Vida” is very popular in Costa Rica. It is one of the characteristic phrases of the country. No foreigner leaves Costa Rica without having heard this phrase and without having used it himself.

Pura Vida” can mean many things. It can be “hello”, “goodbye”, “thank you”, “I’m fine”, etc.

This is because, over the years, this expression has been adopted as a kind of philosophy. Pura Vida” is an attitude of gratitude towards life, of being at peace and happy in spite of circumstances (see article about sabaneros culture).

But where does this expression come from?

Pura Vida 

Promotion of the movie “¡Pura Vida!” in the newspaper. Source: Pinterest

We have already explained in brief what “Pura Vida” means and its multiple uses in daily life.

Although we see this phrase everywhere (T-shirts, caps, posters, advertising), is it really a Costa Rican invention?

No. The saying “Pura Vida” was actually invented by Mexican actor José Antonio Hipólito Espino Mora, better known as “Clavillazo”.

The phrase was first used in the 1955 Mexican film ¡Pura Vida! directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares. In this movie, the main character, Melquiades Ledezma, has bad luck due to his recklessness. Despite his problems, Melquiades faces life with optimism.

Actually, the phrase “pure life” is mentioned 12 times during the film.

The movie was released a year later in Costa Rica and people liked it so much that they started using this expression.

Extracto de la película ¡Pura Vida!

Why did “Pura Vida” become so popular?

In the 1990s, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) decided to carry out a major national and international campaign promoting ecotourism. For this reason, posters, videos, among other things were published with the slogan “Pura Vida”.

And that is how the phrase was appropriated by Costa Ricans.

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