While visiting Sedona earlier this year we visited Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village (see post here). Many of the shops were closed or just getting reopened after COVID lockdown. However, one of the shops had an artsy exhibit outside where people were able to show their love by hanging their padlock message on the iron display.
Fascinated by the messages of love and commitment, I snapped several photos. There was something beautiful in the hopes of eternal love, and statements of love endured.
I looked up the history tied to Love Locks and found the original story is more than 100 years old, but the popularity of the act is fairly recent. Typically once the lock is in place, the key is tossed away (generally in a nearby river) symbolizing unbreakable love. Here is the backstory I discovered on Wikipedia:
The history of love padlocks dates back at least 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of World War I, with an attribution for the bridge Most Ljubavi (lit. the Bridge of Love) in the spa town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other, Relja went to war in Greece, where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke off their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time she died due to heartbreak from her unfortunate love.
As young women from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.
In the rest of Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s as a ritual or epidemy. The reasons love padlocks started to appear vary between locations and in many instances are unclear. However, in Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the 2006 book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, who made a film adaptation in 2007.
Sadly, according to Wikipedia, many locations have claimed the locks as vandalism, and have removed them. Some based on safety because of the weight of multiple locks placed on structures such as bridges.
I find the symbolism of Love Locks beautiful and romantic. I enjoyed reading a variety of messages placed on this Love Locks display and imagined what love stories have been written in these lives over the years.
“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise.”
~ Richard Bach