The custom of love locks for lovers is a fairly recent occurrence and is something that is steadily growing in popularity around the world. A love lock is a padlock on which the initials of two people who love each other are etched, scratched or engraved. The padlock is a symbol of the couple’s eternal love for each other. The love lock is then attached to a monument or significant landmark, locked, and the keys thrown into the river. It is for this reason that bridges are a popular location for love locks to be placed.
The Beginning of Love Locks Tradition – The Symbol of The Eternal Love
While locks of love may seem like a recent custom in actuality this romantic tradition dates back several centuries and is believed to have its origins in China. Therefore the recent interest in following this ages old tradition is actually a resurgence rather than a new occurrence.
In ancient China padlocks were used to protect things, much as they are used today to lock things up and make it more difficult for thieves to gain access. Just when padlocks became a symbol of love is not confirmed but the most famous historical incidence of love locks was in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia. As the story goes the tradition of love locks began prior to World War II a young woman named Nada died as the result of a broken heart. The innocent schoolmistress was engaged to be married to Relja who changed his mind, broke their engagement and married another woman. Before Relja ended their relationship the couple would meet on a bridge, and it is to that bridge that the young local girls began attaching padlocks that bore the name of the girl and her loved one.
The tradition has spread throughout many other parts of the world. Today there are a number of monuments that many lovers flock to in order to attach their love locks and declare their eternal love for each other. Some of the more famous ones monuments are on the Ponte Milvio Bridge in Italy, the Vecch Bridge in Florence, the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany and Kettenbrücke Bridge in Bamberg, Canadian Wild Pacific Trail. Ireland has its bridge Ha’penny and in Taiwan train stations are a popular place for the padlocks to be attached.
Though the tradition is seen as a romantic gesture by lovers many City officials have a different view of the custom. The padlocks are quite heavy and when large numbers are attached to monuments such as bridges the combined weight can cause structural damage which in turn becomes a serious safety issue, not to mention an expense to the cities. For this reason many cities do not leave the padlocks in place for very long, choosing instead to purge them on a regular basis, which seems in total conflict with the romantic gesture that caused them to be attached there in the first place.
The romanticism of the love lock tradition is not lost on other cities however, with many erecting specific places for lovers to declare their eternal love for each other. This is a win/win situation for the cities and for the couples, as the lovers have somewhere that they know they can safely attach their lock without causing a problem for the city, and the city enjoys the tourism that the love lock locations bring to the area. Such specific monuments are trees (a frame is placed around the tree for the locks to be attached to), sculptures and even an artist-designed structure that spells out the word ‘LOVE’ in large letters.
For the most romantic at heart the love lock is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for a loved one. Choose a padlock that has a good surface for having your initials or names engraved on it. Once you have the lock engraved and wrapped in beautiful packaging you have only to decide where you want you and your loved one to attach it. Bridges are a good choice because then the two of you can follow the tradition all the way through by attaching the padlock, locking it and then throwing the keys into the river below. Of course you don’t have to choose a bridge. You can find any location that means a lot to you to attach the padlock to and then find somewhere to toss the keys at a later time.
Make a special occasion of the entire event and experience. If planning on traveling to your chosen location for the locking of the padlock pack a picnic lunch and present the gift of the lock to her during your meal. Perhaps make the destination a surprise and then when you give her Valentine’s Day gift you can explain the purpose of your day out. If she hasn’t heard of this tradition you can explain it to her. Chances are that she will find the premise behind the love lock very romantic and your day will be one to remember forever.