Lock Your Love: Valentine’s Gift

Love-locks are accepted as a symbol of everlasting love and commitment. Believed to have originated in Serbia, lovers attach a locked padlock to a chain or gate and then throw away the key, symbolically locking their love forever. The couple should close the lock together of their love will be forever jinxed.

History of love-locks

lock-love-historyThe history of love padlocks begins about 100 years ago, at the time of the first World War. A local schoolteacher in the town of Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia named Nada fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. They committed to each other before Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. Nada never recovered from the heartbreak of her broken engagement. From then on, young women from Vrnjačka Banja, wanting to secure their relationships, started to write their own names and the names of their loved ones on padlocks which were then fixed to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.

Since the turn of this century, European cities have filled with bridges, poles and fences adorned with padlocks. The reasons why particular sites are used is, in many cases, unknown. It has been suggested that the modern love-locks ritual began in Italy after Federico Moccia, the Italian author of a saga named 3 Metros sobre el cielo – (3 metres over the sky) mentioned the phenomenon in the second book of the series, named “Tengo ganas de ti” (I Want You), published in 2006, where the main characters lock their love on the Puente Milvio, a bridge in Rome. The book was made into a movie in 2007.

Controversy around love-locks

no-locksOver the years, many thousands of lovers have pledged their undying devotion to each other by attaching padlocks to sites, particularly romantic bridges, and throwing away the key. Sadly, the weight of these padlocks has been causing significant damage to structures and in many cases the padlocks are treated by municipal authorities as litter or vandalism.

Love-locks have caused controversy the world over. Some regard them as a distraction from nature, whilst others have aesthetic and structural concerns, particularly with regards to bridges. Most famously, locks have been removed from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City in 2013 and from the Pont des Arts in Paris in 2010.

Love-locks encouraged

Some authorities have embraced the love-locks trend, using it as a tourist attraction or for fund-raising projects. Some areas have published lists of the safe and legal places to lock your love whilst still being respectful of the property of others.

At the same time, people are being actively encouraged to leave love-locks on specific sites built for the purpose. At Lover’s Lock Plaza in Lovelock, Nevada there are chains strung between posts where people are actually encouraged to leave their locks. In the city of San Angelo in Texas, a “Forever Love” sculpture is another bespoke site for love-locks.

Love-locks in the United Kingdom

Edinburgh City Council in Scotland has dealt with the issue of love-locks causing damage by launching a “Mark your Spot” campaign on the Forth Road Bridge. Four sets of panels on the bridge were dedicated to love-locks, with visitors able to buy locks and affix them to the bridge. This charitable initiative raised £10,300 for the Queensferry RNLI, a local lifeboat service.

At Gretna Green, just across the English border into Scotland and the place of marriage for many runaway couples, have specially designed lightweight padlocks that can even be personalised with laser engraving. There is no key as the love locks only lock for one time, meaning your love is sealed forever.

24k gold rose, pendant and earringsIn 2014 Jonathan Montagu and Nathalie Daoust commissioned a giant bonsai love-lock tree for their wedding, to symbolise their meeting in Japan. The tree, made from beautifully crafted metal swirls and loops is located within the gardens of the Beaulieu Palace House in the New Forest, Hampshire, England. To help the tree flourish, couples are invited to add their own love-locks.
For those concerned about the damage from love-locks to the environment, there are now websites where you can send your lover a virtual love-lock. This means that you are able to symbolically attach a love-lock to a bridge in Paris, London, Prague, or New York without actually having to pay out for flights or risk being arrested for vandalism.

Woo your lover with a drawing of your lock, attached to a bridge of your choice, it can be great Valentine’s gift idea. Personalise the drawing with additional pictures and a motto. This virtual card is then sent straight to your loved one’s email address with no trees or landmark bridges harmed in the process. There is also the option to print a copy of the artwork to give in person.